Best Drama Movies on Netflix Right Now (2020)

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No. 2 – The Graduate (1967)

Written by: Calder Willingham and Buck Henry (screenplay)/Charles Webb (novel)

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, and Murray Hamilton

Ernest Hemingway used to talk about the Iceberg Theory; the idea that art may appear as one thing on the surface, but that 90 percent of what its true meaning and significance was, was below the surface. It was a way in which he challenged his readers to look deeper than just the surface level conflicts of his characters, and look for the themes and meanings of what his stories were truly about. The Graduate is a movie that uses that theory, arguably, more than any other major film in history.

On the surface it is a movie about Benjamin (Hoffman), his love for Elaine (Ross), and an affair he has with her mother (Bancroft). However, The Graduate is much more than that, deep down. It’s a movie about adulthood, fear, insecurity, and loneliness. It’s a character study about people who have no idea where they are supposed to go in life, and the things they cling onto, including love, just to make it to the next day.

The Graduate’s closing scene, one in which two of the films characters run away with each other, happy as can be, only to see their smiles slowly fade away as the realization that what they are doing may be completely wrong. The expressions on their faces encapsulate one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. The Graduate was never about any one character, you see. Rather, it was about what type of people those characters had become based on their stage in life, and how they became people they weren’t just to deal with the fear of growing up and growing out of their comfort zone.