Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation screened in Competition at Cannes this May, where it won him Best Director (shared with Olivier Assayas). It’s as brilliantly constructed as you’d expect from the man who took home the Palme d’Or in 2007 for the searing pregnancy drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
The story depicts a doctor in a small Romanian town and the moral complexities of the decisions he makes to provide a better life for his daughter. As the film progresses, the consequences of these decisions slowly unravel to reveal the shifty, shabby layers of corruption and ensuing shame still present in Romanian society, as citizens compromise on ethics in the (understandable) hopes of gaining something better for themselves, or in this case, their loved ones. It’s masterful stuff, superbly made, and gives you the rewarding sense of watching a director in complete command of his craft.
Apart from his own work, Graduation compares well to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan and will no doubt play well to a similar upscale arthouse audience, bolstered by five star reviews.