By Kevin Yu
Yay!!! It is a Romanian film, actually the first Romanian film I’ve ever seen, and it came to the top of my favorite movies last year. It’s that good! It competed in Cannes Film Festival 2016 and won the Best Director for Cristian Mungiu. One of his more famous movies is 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 days. I can’t wait to explore his filmography!
The original title is Bacalaureat, now retitled as Graduation for the US release. It is already on at some places in the US, but has not yet reached Winston-Salem. I really hope a/perture will show it!
So there is this Romanian father named Romeo, who wants his daughter Eliza to study and live in the UK. She is already accepted by a college in England and offered a scholarship, but she still needs to score over 8.0 in her graduation exams to seal the deal. Just before the exams, unfortunately, someone attempts to rape her, though not succeeds, Eliza’s right arm is broken.
Though Eliza is intelligently capable enough to score a grade that high, she now needs to write with her off hand and can hardly finish the exams on time, let alone the traumatizing experience of being almost raped. His father, so desperately wants to send Eliza abroad, insists that she take the exams, and starts out to do his networking, talking to this official, bribing that teacher, etc.
One reason that I love this movie is that I can relate to it so much. There are so many people in China who think basically everything Chinese is shit, and want so desperately to send their kids abroad. Though most parents still want their children come back home, people like Romeo who wants to get rid of Romania for good definitely exist. A system where the only way to do things is through “connections” is also very relatable for me. Everyone hates the system. You can see it on Romeo’s face: how reluctant he is to talk to strangers and beg for help. But he’s gotta do it or his baby girl doesn’t stand a chance. How unfortunate but heartbreakingly real!
This film is also aesthetically realistic to its bones. No background music. Minimum editing. Everything accomplished through dialogues. The lines are written just the way common people talk. The plot, well you’ve already seen, just feels so real. It may not suit everyone because it is slow and quiet, but I enjoy every minute of it.
So, look out for Graduation! A++, five-star recommendation!