Continuing with the recommendations from The Rules of The Game from The Great Movies -100 Years of Film book, I sat down to rewatch this classic film that sees Dustin Hoffman as a young man, Benjamin, unable to connect with the world around him – the expectations of his parents weigh him down, he can’t figure out what to do with his life, and he begins an affair with his parents’ friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft).
This one is timeless, and still works beautifully. The music, the imagery, the performances, that climax!
Hoffman is perfect as the lost soul that is Benjamin, who after his university graduation, isn’t quite sure what to do with his life, and finds himself adrift socially and emotionally.
When Mrs. Robinson approaches him, and brazenly lets him know she’s available for an affair should he ever want one, he tries… He puts himself out there physically, and there are some very funny moments around their first evening together as he attempts to get a room for them.
But his life finally comes together when he catches up with Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross), someone his own age, and someone who he clicks with right from the off. It’s just too bad, that he may have ruined her family life, by cuckolding her father with his affair with her mother.
But for the first time ever, Benjamin knows what he wants, and pursues Elaine wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, she goes back to school, well aware of what Benjamin has done to her family, with no desire to ever see him again.
He definitely has his work set out for him in the second half of the film!
Nichols film seems to just get better with age, and I enjoyed it even more this time around than I had previous times I’d screened it.
Hoffman, Ross and Bancroft are in fine form, and I quite enjoyed seeing Murray Hamilton, the mayor from Jaws as Mr. Robinson. Hoffman is disconnected, Bancroft seems manipulative, and Ross conveys a wonderful romantic innocence.
There’s not a missed moment or opportunity in this film, its pacing, its style, and the performances are all fantastic, and won Nichols an Oscar for Best Director.
Benjamin’s isolation and distance are perfectly conveyed by framing and imagery, and watching how he connects to Elaine is really well done.
Like I said, this time around, I found it even more engaging than I had my previous viewings, this really is a fantastic film.
Hoffman really turns in a brilliant performance, and I was delighted to see Richard Dreyfuss in a very small role!
I think this one just found its way onto my need to watch on a regular basis list. And of course with a soundtrack filled with Simon & Garfunkel, what’s not to enjoy? This one really is an American Classic, and deserves to be seen by anyone who considers themselves a cinema-phile.
What did you think of this one?