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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.39:1 Widescreen
  • Romanian DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview with Cristian Mungiu
  • Press conference from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Cristian Mungiu and actors Cristian Mungiu, Adrian Titieni, Maria Dr?gu?, and M?lina Manovici
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer
  • An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri

Graduation

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Cristian Mungiu
2016 | 127 Minutes | Licensor: Sundance Selects

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #924
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 22, 2018
Review Date: May 24, 2018

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SYNOPSIS

Blending rigorous naturalism with the precise construction of a thriller, this Cannes award–winning drama from Cristian Mungiu sheds light on the high stakes and ethical complexities of life in contemporary Romania. As his daughter nears high-school graduation, Romeo (Adrian Titieni), an upstanding doctor, counts on her winning a competitive scholarship that will send her to university in England. But when an injury sustained during a sexual assault compromises her performance on an important exam, Romeo’s best-laid plans for her threaten to crumble, leading him to seek favors in a world that runs on backscratching and bribery. Suffused with quiet dread, Graduation takes a humane and deeply ambiguous look at how corrosive rampant corruption is to moral convictions.


PICTURE

Released alongside his previous film Beyond the Hills, Criterion also presents Cristian Mungiu’s latest film, Graduation on Blu-ray, presented here on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The image has been encoded at 1080p/24hz from a 2K digital master.

Mingiu ended up shooting this film digitally so we’re getting a high-definition presentation made directly from the original digital source. I ended up being quite surprised with how well this one turned out, especially considering the look to the film. The film does have a cooler look, everything taking on a blue hue, but I think this is intentional and it doesn’t appear to mess with any other aspect of the image. There are a lot of darker scenes in the film, which can play havoc with digital photography but for the most part these scenes look clean and clear. There are a few exterior shots that take place in almost complete darkness yet the black levels still look black and details can still be clearly seen. Only a handful of shots with some lighting, though still low, have that murkier, digital look but it’s not distracting in any way. Daytime sequences look really wonderful, though, bright and nicely detailed, with textures and fine patterns rendered clearly. Since this comes straight from a digital source there is no print damage to speak of and I also can’t recall any digital anomalies in the photography, no cases of severe noise or banding jumping out. It’s a really nice looking film and it’s beautifully presented here.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Like with Beyond the Hills the 5.1 surround mix for Graduation (again presented in DTS-HD MA) is full of surprises. This film is even more low key than that previous one but it still manages to provide a very rich and immersive surround mix. You clearly hear activity in the streets, the car the protagonists are sitting in hitting the potholes, the gears shifting, children playing outside, activity in a hospital, and so on. There’s a lot going on and the sounds naturally and clearly move between the speakers very naturally when needed. Volume levels are also mixed nicely so that all of these effects are still clear but dialogue doesn’t get lost in the process. A superb sounding track.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though it’s missing a making-of the features pretty much follow the same structure as what Criterion offered with Beyond the Hills, though the supplements here, rather disappointingly, aren’t as extensive. The interview with director Cristian Mungiu is the best feature here, and he is just as talkative and forthcoming as he was in the features found on Criterion’s edition of Beyond the Hills. Here he openly explains what he looks for in a subject when he makes his film, and why this film was important to him. Though the film and its central conflict will still be relatable to even North American viewers Mungiu also provides some context for non-Romanian viewers that better explain the situations presented in the film and the motivations of its characters, though in fairness I think the film still clearly explains all of this.

Again, Mungiu comes off very passionate and engaging in that interview and I expected some more of that in the next feature, footage from the Cannes press conference that followed a screening of the film. I really enjoyed the one found on Criterion’s Beyond the Hills but with this one everyone (which includes Mungiu and actors Adrian Titieni, Maria Dr?gu?, M?lina Manovici, and Rare? Andrici) feels a bit disengaged—further hurt by voice-over translations for everything not spoken in English—and the questions aren’t as good or interesting (though I enjoyed listening to Dr?gu? talk about the role, shocked to also learn she didn’t grow up in Romania). Annoyingly the moderator and others in the audience become focused on Mungiu’s use of a large number of takes when shooting and it pulls a good chunk of the 42-minute video into that direction, which doesn’t prove specially engaging. There are some interesting comments about the conflict in the film and the actors share what it is like to work with Mungiu but I felt a hint of disappointment with this one.

Criterion also includes 7 deleted scenes totaling 8-minutes. Most of the cuts wouldn’t add a lot back into the film but one scene clarifies the outcome around a very minor sub plot involving a dog (and its removal also makes another scene that would have appeared before this one more powerful). The disc then closes with the American theatrical trailer and an included insert features a brief essay by Bilge Ebiri. Though it more or less follows the same structure that Criterion’s Beyond the Hills offered (though missing a making-of) this feels like a far less satisfying set of features.

5/10

CLOSING

The features fall a bit short but the audio/video presentation is excellent.


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