A college Graduate named Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is confused and unsure of his future. A friend of the family named Mrs.Robinson(Anne Bancroft) seduces Benjamin and the two have an affair. However, Benjamin falls in love with a girl named Elaine (Katharine Ross) who is indeed Mrs.Robinson's daughter. After seeing this film many times something hit me and made me realize that the characters are not likable nor were they intended to be. Benjamin is a bit of a creep, Mrs.Robinson is a whore, Elaine is a bit nuts, Benjamin's parents (William Daniels and Elizabeth Wilson) are idiots, Mr.Robinson (Murray Hamilton) is not really with his Wife because of love and the rest of the characters are either jerks or idiots. The film is really about people with no direction in what they're doing in life, do stupid things for fun and to be rebellious and regret it in the end. The film is really good at depicting that, as well as giving us such memorable characters who we can identify ourselves with if not like.
Dustin Hoffman in his first leading role as Benjamin is great! As creepy, idiotic and sometimes annoying as this character is intended to be, Dustin Hoffman really pulls that off really well, while at the same time making you root for him and making you laugh here and there. He's so identifiable that he's a character you can relate too. You can relate to his fear of his future and not knowing what to do, you can relate to him being isolated from a crowd of people, you can relate to him being passionate over a girl, you can relate to him being nervous of scoring for the first time, heck some people out there can relate to having an affair that goes wrong or feeling guilt about it. Next you have Anne Bancroft as the seductive Mrs.Robinson who is perfect as her character as well as being gorgeous. While being a whore she still comes off as funny and classy as her character, as well as having some good intimidating moments. Her character even has a sad back story. If there's one film role that Anne Bancroft should be remembered for, it should be this role. Katharine Ross as Elaine the love interest and a friend she grew up with, while looking very cute she really has a lot of scenes where she goes full out hysterical which makes her character emotionally unstable and boy is she great at that. The relationship between her and Hoffman is very complex but that's what makes the relationship interesting. Other performances by Murray Hamilton, William Daniels, Elizabeth Wilson, Buck Henry as the hotel clerk, Norman Fell as the landlord,Walter Brooks as Mr McGuire, an up and coming Richard Dreyfuss in a cameo role and the rest of the cast are all funny and well performed.
What makes the film really great are the many shots and scenes. One of the many aspects of the film is our main character feeling isolated from people and the film really does a great job of showing that. In the opening scene, we see Benjamin alone but as the camera zooms out, we see various people in the room as Benjamin just stares emotionless. After the opening credits he is seen alone in front of Aquarium Tank staring blankly and wanting to be alone as a party for him is being held. Another example is when his parents are celebrating his Birthday and Ben reluctantly shows his new Scuba Diving Outfit and as he walks out we see through a point of view shot inside the scuba gear. He walks around not knowing where to go, can't hear the voices of a cheering crowd of adults, feels trapped and finds peace and silence when his parents force him into the pool, which also symbolizes him "drowning". The film also has some brilliant montages. One shows Ben drifting on a rubber raft in the pool and we constantly see transitions of him just lying around in the pool to Ben spending time in the Hotel having sex with Mrs.Robin and the whole montage ends with Ben swimming on top of the raft jump cutting to Ben jumping on top of Mrs.Robinson ending with a voice over of Ben's father asking what is he doing. The other montage is about Ben's obsession with Elaine. Some of the great shots and moments is when Ben constantly writes her name over and over and having one shot of Ben sitting alone by a water fountain from a far away view of no one around and then a few seconds later people appear. There's also tons of other things that people can go on talking about. The black and white stripes symbolizing Ben being trapped and not sure where to go in life, Ben Drifting on the raft leading to nowhere, the reveal scene, the long takes, the picture of the clown of a sad clown, the iconic scenes, famous quotes, funny moments(Some of mine being when Mrs.Robinson tries to seduce Ben and or when Ben is trying to make the Hotel Clerk think he's not on an affair), the silent moments, Ben's alienation being symbolized through glass shots, the darkness, the climactic ending and of course the look on Benjamin and Elaine's faces after pulling a big stunt.
What really makes the film great is the soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel. The songs in the film give the film fantastic atmosphere as well as tell what our main character Benjamin is feeling. "The Sound Of Silence" is about Benjamin's emptiness and isolation from his surroundings,"April Come She Will" is Benjamin's progressive affair with Mrs.Robinson,"Scarborough Fair" is Benjamin obsession with Elaine and "Mrs.Robinson" is not only Benjamin's love and wanting to marry Elaine but also is him racing to her to achieve his wishes as we hear fast guitar strumming. The songs are one of the many great things that this movie has to offer.
Overall it is in fact one of the greatest films of all time. The characters are memorable,the acting is great, the scenes,directing, editing, songs are what make it so outstanding and it makes a good time capsule to the late 1960s. It's a film I watch that keeps getting better and better and more interesting with things I never noticed before.