A Criterion Bluray of Cristian Munguiu‘s Graduation (Romanian: Bacalaureat) will street on 5.22.18. I don’t know why it’s been given a 2K mastering instead of 4K, but it has. Essential viewing for anyone with half a brain. Easily one of the best films of ’16 or ’17, whichever you prefer. It earned a pittance at the U.S. box-office, largely due to the fact that a majority of American moviegoers are morons.
“Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation is a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption. It basically says that ethical lapses are deceptive in that they don’t seem too problematic at first, but they have a way of metastasizing into something worse, and that once this happens the smell starts to spread and the perpetrators start to feel sick in their souls.
“I don’t necessarily look at things this way, and yet Mungiu’s film puts the hook in. I felt the full weight of his viewpoint, which tends to happen, of course, when you’re watching a film by a masterful director, which Mungui (Four Months, Three Weeks, Two days, Beyond The Hills) certainly is.
“And yet I tend to shy away from judging people too harshly when they bend the rules once or twice. Not as a constant approach but once in a blue moon. I’m not calling myself a moral relativist, but I do believe there’s a dividing line between hard corruption and the softer, looser variety, and I know that many of us have crossed paths with the latter. Let he who’s without sin cast the first stone.
“Politicians or dirty cops who accept payoffs from ne’er-do-wells in exchange for favoritism or looking the other way — that’s hard, blatant corruption. Soft corruption is a milder manifestation — a form of ethical side-stepping that decent people go along with from time to time in order to (a) prevent something worse from happening or (b) to help a friend or family member who’s in a tough spot and needs a little friendly finagling to make the problem go away or become less acute.