Ten years ago, the harrowing Romanian abortion drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” marked the arrival of a major new talent, filmmaker Christian Mungiu (Chris-tee-ann Mon-JEEW). His latest effort, “Graduation,” won him the Best Director Award at the most recent Cannes Film Festival. Starkly realistic and involving, “Graduation” examines what occurs when good people compromise their principles when faced with a moral dilemma.
Adrian Titieni plays Romeo, a middle-aged doctor who wants only the best for his bright and ambitious daughter, hoping he can get her out of repressed Romania and into a prestigious British university. She can get a scholarship if she aces her high school exit exams. Just before exams day, however, she’s sexually assaulted and the emotionally drained girl underperforms on her tests. Her frustrated dad decides to pull some strings that could help her cheat on her follow-up tests.
Mungiu’s naturalistic story is complex and compelling as it fills us in on the details of Romeo’s life. The tension mounts as we come to understand his motives and put ourselves in his shoes. Would we act differently? What are the compromises we might make to ensure the success and safety of our children? “Graduation” is an intelligent drama that will stick with you.
Also opening this week, “The Circle” is a thriller starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks about shady goings on at a powerful social media company. Surprisingly, critics were not allowed to see it in advance…usually a bad sign. “How to Be a Latin Lover” is a broad comedy that features Salma Hayek and Raquel Welch. “After the Storm” is an art house Japanese entry about an author turned private detective who tries to reconnect with his estranged family. “The Transfiguration” is a low budget thriller about a troubled teen with a fixation on vampires.