Winner of the Palme d’Or in a heavily stacked 2007 field that included The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country for Old Men and Silent Light, Cristian Mungiu followed 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days with 2012’s double awarded (Best Screenplay and Best Actress award shared by the co-leads) Beyond the Hills. A name that is synonymous with the Croisette, he saw his feature debut film Occident land in the 2002 edition of the Directors’ Fortnight and had a memorable short in the Un Certain Regard selected omnibus Tales From the Golden Age back in 2009. Featuring familiar faces in Adrian Titieni (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), Maria Dragus (The White Ribbon) and Vlad Ivanov from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, it looks like Mungiu’s third comp title could once again challenge the field (including fellow countryman Cristi Puiu) for the runner up prizes after the Palme.
Graduation tells the story of Romeo Aldea (Titieni), a physician living in a small mountain town in Transylvania, has raised his daughter Eliza (Dragus) with the idea that once she turns 18, she will leave to study and live abroad. His plan is close to succeeding -Eliza has won a scholarship to study psychology in the UK. She just has to pass her final exams – a formality for such a good student. On the day before her first written exam, Eliza is assaulted in an attack that could jeopardize her entire future. So far ThePlaylist’s Jessica Kiang calls this an “excoriating, gripping, intricately plotted morality play, Mungiu’s film is less linear, more circular or spiral-shaped than his previous Cannes titles,” and The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin differs in opinion but in comparison to other international filmmakers says that, “Graduation isn’t one of Mungiu’s finest, but even a restrained, emotionally measured work like this is more interesting and provocative than many another director’s best effort.”
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