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Romanian writer/director Cristian Mungui seared himself upon the eyes of American moviegoers with the breathtaking and powerful drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, an explosive chronicle of someone helping a friend get an abortion under the ruthless Communist dictatorship of Ceausescu.
That film, along with others like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 12:08 East of Bucharest, California Dreaming’ and Police, Adjective, cemented Romania, along with South Korea, as the countries that are making the best films in the world right now.
Mungui’s new film is Graduation, and it’s marvelous. The story revolves around Romeo, a respected doctor known for not breaking the law or rules. But when his daughter is attacked and becomes distracted, he is willing to do anything he can to make sure she finishes her final exams with high enough scores so she can get a scholarship to Cambridge.
Graduation may not be for everyone. The conflict is subtle, if not extremely subtle, the pacing leisurely. But there’s a madness to this method. In Mungui’s world (here, as well as 4 Months…), rarely does one say exactly what they want or what is expected in exchange. They talk around it and around it, constantly circling each other like fighters who never start punching, until the two participants fully understand what was being said between the lines. Continue reading