Graduation (2016 film)

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A father and his daughter hug each other in front of a light grey-purple background. The film's title, awards recognition and praise from critics are placed above them, with the "n" in Graduation raised higher than the title's other letters.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCristian Mungiu
Produced byCristian Mungiu
Written byCristian Mungiu
StarringAdrian Titieni
Maria-Victoria Dragus
Lia Bugnar
Mălina Manovici
Vlad Ivanov
CinematographyTudor Vladimir Panduru
Edited byMircea Olteanu
Distributed byVoodoo Films
Release date
  • 19 May 2016 (2016-05-19) (Cannes)
Running time
128 minutes
Box office$1.9 million

Graduation (Romanian: Bacalaureat) is a 2016 Romanian-language tragedy film[1][2] produced, written, and directed by Cristian Mungiu and starring Adrian Titieni and Maria-Victoria Dragus. Set in Transylvania, the film focuses on a doctor.[3] It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] At Cannes, Mungiu shared the Best Director Award with Olivier Assayas for his film Personal Shopper.[6] At the 8th Magritte Awards, it received a nomination in the category of Best Foreign Film in Coproduction.[7]


Romeo is a middle-aged doctor employed at a local hospital in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca. He lives with his wife, Magda, and their 18-year-old daughter, Eliza, who has just won a scholarship to Cambridge University. She is preparing to write her final exams and needs to maintain a grade of at least 90%. Romeo is a doting father and drives Eliza to school regularly.

Romeo's girlfriend, Sandra, is a teacher at Eliza's school. One day while visiting Sandra he receives a message: Eliza has been assaulted near her school. She has a sprained wrist and is emotionally shaken up but is not seriously injured. She reveals that the assailant tried to rape her but did not succeed.

The next day Eliza must sit for her first examination. The headmaster tries to exclude her because she is wearing a cast on her wrist - notes can be hidden in a cast. Sandra intervenes and the headmaster backs down. The cast slows her writing and time runs out before she is finished - she will need nearly perfect results on the remaining exams to claim her scholarship.

At the police station the chief inspector suggests to Romeo that Eliza's exam results can be fixed in exchange for expediting a liver transplant for a corrupt official, a Mr. Bulai.

That evening Romeo discusses the plan with Magda and she immediately rejects it - she fears the ubiquitous corruption in Romania will infect Eliza's fresh start at Cambridge. Romeo argues that the exams are a mere formality, otherwise meaningless. She is unmoved. Romeo presents the plan to Eliza and implores her to accept a little help now to ensure a brighter future. She listens equivocally.

The next day Romeo waits at the school for Eliza to complete her second exam. He encounters her boyfriend, Marius and they chat amicably. Romeo gets more details of the morning of the attack and is put off by Marius' aloofness of the whole incident. Because he was late, Eliza was left on her own. He also assumed Eliza went off to class and did not seek her out. Eliza and Marius go off together on his motorbike.

Eliza discovers Romeo's affair with Sandra. She threatens to skip her exams if he doesn't tell Magda about it immediately. She wonders aloud whether her other grades were also "fixed". At home that evening Magda and Romeo talk. Magda already knew about Sandra and will try to get Eliza to take her last exam, but she also asks Romeo to move out.

The next day Romeo arrives for work at the hospital and is confronted by a pair of prosecutors. They want to interview Romeo's patient, Mr. Bulai, about corruption allegations against him. Romeo resists because Bulai is waiting for the promised liver transplant and is also quite ill. The prosecutors caution Romeo they are aware of the quid-pro-quo for his daughter's exams - both he and Eliza could be facing charges themselves.

Romeo visits the police station again. The chief inspector assures him that his daughter's assailant will soon be identified in a police line-up. Later that day he sees Marius and invites him to view the lineup even though Marius did not witness the attack. He refuses and Romeo accuses him of complicity in the assault. Romeo orders Marius to stay away from Eliza. That evening at the police station Eliza fails to identify an attacker, even with prodding by the police officers there. Romeo sees one of the suspected attackers and follows him, but gets lost in a bad area. He ends up at Sandra's place and agrees to babysit her son.

The next day Mr. Bulai has died of a heart attack. The prosecutors are waiting and assure Romeo that the investigation into Mr. Bulai's crimes will continue. Eliza graduates and Romeo brings Sandra's son Matei. Eliza mentions that the teachers allowed her to write past the three hour time, one of the smaller things that Romeo tried to negotiate beforehand. It is left open if Eliza's scores will be enough for her to go to England, and whether she will go or stay with Marius.


  • Adrian Titieni - Romeo Aldea, a 49 year old physician living in a Transylvanian town with his daughter
  • Maria Drăguș - Eliza Aldea, an 18-year-old high school student planning to study psychology abroad in the United Kingdom after graduating
  • Lia Bugnar - Magda
  • Mălina Manovici - Sandra
  • Vlad Ivanov - Chief Inspector
  • Gelu Colceag [ro] - Exam committee president
  • Rareș Andrici - Marius


According to Cristian Mungiu, the film was inspired by his own life at the time, while he was focusing on being a father.[8] The film was produced through the director's company Mobra Films and co-produced with Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch, Les Films du Fleuve, France 3 Cinéma and Mandragora Movies. It received 1.91 million leu from the National Film Center. It was shot in the town Victoria from 11 June to 24 July 2015.[3]


On Rotten Tomatoes, Graduation has a rating of 95%, based on 127 critics, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Graduation marks yet another well-written and powerfully acted look at morality and societal decay from writer-director Cristian Mungiu."[9] On Metacritic, Graduation holds a score of 84/100, based on 30 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[10]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian lauded it as an "intricate, deeply intelligent film".[11]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Blaga, Iulia (11 August 2015). "Production: Cristian Mungiu Wraps Shooting for Family Photos". Film New Europe. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  4. ^ Erbland, Kate (14 April 2016). "2016 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  5. ^ Debruge, Peter; Keslassy, Elsa (14 April 2016). "Cannes 2016: Film Festival Unveils Official Selection Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (22 May 2016). "Cannes Film Festival Winners: Palme d'Or To Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  7. ^ Degré, Michaël (11 January 2018). "Magrittes 2018: vers un match Streker-Belvaux?". L'Avenir (in French). Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  8. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (12 March 2015). "Cristian Mungiu reveals first details of next film". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Graduation (Bacalaureat)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Graduation Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  11. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (19 May 2016). "Graduation review – a five-star study of grubby bureaucratic compromise". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 20 September 2016.

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