Graduation (original title Bacalaureat) is another social realism drama from Romanian writer/director Cristian Mungiu (pictured), best known for 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, for which he won the Palm d’Or in 2007.
The story revolves around a father-daughter relationship in a middle-class family. Romeo is a well-respected doctor, Eliza is an only child, who has received a conditional offer from Cambridge University. However, just before the exam season, she gets assaulted and nearly raped on her way to school, which damages her both mentally and physically (she cannot write quickly during her exams when her arm is in a plaster). What follows is the father trying all his connections when the examination board rejects mitigating circumstances plea; he uses his social status to talk to local policemen, schoolteachers, crooked politicians, etc.
The acting is universally good, but Adrian Titieni (Romeo) stands out – he carries the film excellently. His character is not a particularly likeable one, but his performance kept me invested in the story.
It is a lot like the aforementioned 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, with the long takes, dreary setting and naturalistic acting. However, it is more optimistic – there are several suggestions that perhaps the younger generation will get rid of the corruption and nepotism. It deals with complex themes such as guilt, intergenerational conflict in a manner which is engaging, thoughtful and un-judgemental towards the characters. It isn’t afraid of leaving loose ends untied up. It’s a great film – not Mungiu’s finest, perhaps – but definitely worth checking out.