Saturday, 8 October 2016

LFF 2016 REVIEW - GRADUATION (CRISTIAN MUNGIU)


A wishful, though woefully misguided doctor digs a hole so deep he drags his whole family into it. The complacency of a generation who had it bad, and never got it better, in spite of the hopes they held and the promises they heard, brings its mistakes down upon its children, a catastrophic miscalculation of the societal climate in which the youth now resides. Short-term solutions tempt, and the ease with which this muddled middle class seeks and achieves resolution to its myriad issues both leaves those issues unresolved and further begets a culture of dishonesty. Graduation tells of that youth and its advancement into adulthood, appropriating the same problematic approaches to life as its parents. All those parents had at that age were hopes and dreams, earnest at first, shattered at last; their descendants know now the ease in dismissing these notions, and betray their essential innocence and purity in the process. A presumptive father considers said innocence in his daughter quite differently, and the extent of his misunderstanding wreaks turmoil on her life. The unsolicited stranglehold of a parent, or of a husband, or an authority figure, and mostly of men and their antiquated attitudes toward women - these are crippling dangers from which there is no escape in the all-encompassing corruption of modern-day Romania. The collective back-scratching fails to appreciate the legacy it leaves, in those who must necessarily lose out, as a select few seem to win. Provocative and tantalizing suggestion and abstraction decorate Cristian Mungiu's remarkably rich, detailed drama, which is otherwise notable for its apparent austerity; it's nothing of the sort, only a manifestation of the astonishing control this filmmaker exerts over his films, particularly piquant here, as he depicts the loss of control of a bewildered man, bolstered by the virtues he assigns to himself, bloated by the vices whose admission he relentlessly resists.