GRADUATION: An intricately woven drama that is partly horror, partly subtle psychological observation of a father-daughter coming of age relationship.
Broken windows, broken hearts, and broken dreams create a perplexing paranoia that is difficult to shrug off. Squeeze in a spirit collapsing tragic incident while she is consciously asked to break the moral boundary to achieve a life that she might not even wish for.
What starts off as a simple story of a father who wants the best for his only daughter, sharply turns into a subtle mystery drama of placing your moral values & shifting your conscience effort to abide it, which seamlessly sweeps into a complex & repressing psychological zone that will be difficult to comprehend. Romanian Director Cristian Mungiu, who rose to the fame with his pregnancy drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days”, is back with a more complex and subtle drama about the scruffy choices we make for our loved ones under the strict political, social and cultural condition.
Mungiu smartly draws inspiration from the Austrian auteur Michael Haneke, specifically from ‘Caché’ & builds parental dilemma reminiscent to another Romanian film ‘Child’s Pose’ and the end product obtained is a nearly perfect film. He constructs an effortless allegory about a reputed Romanian doctor- Aldea (played by Adrian Titieni)– working in Cluj, who lives in a shabby apartment with his wife & daughter.
Aldea has a reputation among socialites and holds an image of being an honest & a respectable doctor. He inculcates righteous moral values in his 18-year-old daughter -Eliza, played by Maria Dragus. He takes a stubborn pride in how he has brought up his daughter in the bleak and dilapidated country, Romania. Aldea has a warm relationship with his daughter and wife. He has already planned to send his daughter to Cambridge for the best education, and it will eventually help her to get rid of her hipster boyfriend. Eliza just has to maintain her 9.0 average.
But there is a slight anomaly in Aldea’s behavior. You sense Aldea’s values are shaken. His shenanigans can destroy his inner peace and family. A stone thrown at his window glass and windshield by a mysterious attacker solidifies the doubt of a repressed and opaque puzzle that intensifies the story.
The shocking event of sexual assault on Eliza near her school creates emotional turbulence and pushes the entire family to the moral ambiguity & psychological chaos. Aldea has to make a choice, a difficult one, that will change the way of life they have been living. He tries to butter up the influential people at the school to get Eliza through all the tests, as she is not mentally prepared to take any of them.
A helpless Aldea needs the conscious participation of Eliza in this guilt filled act. It’s the worst nightmare for any parents to drag their own kid(s) in a malicious act while they have been cultivating honesty and truthfulness throughout their life. What makes it even worse for Aldea is the realization that Eliza might know about the Aldea’s secret that could further damage the credibility of his life’s preachings. For Eliza, what seemed like black & white chapters of her life, soon start turning grey.
When Mungiu puts down his cards on the table, it becomes quite difficult to see Aldea and Eliza together behind the scenes; it essentially transcends to such a gut-wrenching tragedy that you wish not to see their confrontation anymore.
Graduation is an intricately woven drama that is partly horror, partly subtle psychological observation of a father-daughter coming of age relationship. It is nearly a masterpiece that needs to be seen and loved.