Bacalaureat (Graduation in English), which premiered earlier this year at Cannes, is an intriguing movie that subtly blends together many topics: insights on marriage, father-daughter relationships, and Romania.
Now there’s something we don’t see every day: a Romanian movie—the plot of the film at its core is a father trying to do whatever he can to ensure that his daughter makes it out of Romania (and goes to the UK, where she has a chance at a better, bigger life). Complications get in the way, in order to maintain her scholarship to Cambridge, she has to average a 9 on her exams—however, the day before the tests, she gets attacked—almost raped—and has a hard time focusing on the tests, not to mention that she broke her writing arm.
So what will Dr. Aldea do for his daughter? Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu, this script follows a middle aged man navigate Romanian bureaucracy in an attempt to cheat the system for his daughter, while balancing his estranged wife, his lover, and the fact that his daughter may not want to leave Kluj (the little town they live in) after all, despite the hoops he jumps through for her. Mungiu shoots the movie in a captivating way, in which every scene is shot straight through, with no edits or cuts. Most of the time, only one character occupies the screen, as if each scene were really a slice of life and we were interrupting their most intimate moments. The film is helped by the superb acting of the cast and we’re left with a delicate movie about the fragility of human relationships.
The topics of this movie—family, estrangement, love—are not unusual, but the unique lens we get to ponder them through makes this film worth considering. The movie is at once familiar and foreign, adding new and subtle layers for our American eyes to view.
We screened the film at New York Film Festival. Get your tickets here: https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2016/films/graduation/