Adrian Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Lia Bugnar
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Graduation is an extraordinarily deft, well-pitched and multi-faceted film.
What an ingeniously constructed and engrossing tale this is! But more than that, what a conceptually deep and thought-provoking one. The central character is Romeo, a doctor with a mistress and an (understandably) bitter and depressed wife, Magda (Lia Bugnar).
Romeo sees himself as decent, and basically tries to be, even whilst descending a slippery slide of moral compromise. “Sometimes in life”, he argues – perhaps trying to convince himself in the process – “it’s the result that counts”.
When Romeo’s 18-year-old daughter Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus) is attacked and nearly raped, she escapes with minor injuries, but is of course severely shaken up. One potential effect of this is that she may fail to get the high test results needed to lock in the tentative offer she’s received of a scholarship to Cambridge. Romeo desperately wants to help her avoid that, and so begins a Machiavellian process involving a queue-jumping transplant recipient, a chief of police and much else besides.
Graduation is an extraordinarily deft, well-pitched and multi-faceted film. Its unfussy naturalistic style belies a ton of cleverness. One of the many ingenious tropes is that the characters are virtually never presented in isolation. There always seem to be either other figures in the background or at least mutterings or sounds suggesting activity offscreen. It seems that writer-director Cristian Munglu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) is trying to remind us, sometimes almost subliminally, that we live in a world of ethical inter-connectedness and that everything we do has broader ramifications and consequences. It’s a painful and uncomfortable fact, and this is at times an uncomfortable movie.
It’s also quite a brilliant one.