The graduates

The graduates
Original title:The graduates
Director:Hannah Peterson
Running time:87 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
A year after the shooting death of her boyfriend, a young high school girl with an uncertain future ends her final year in a community that seeks to soothe her grief.

Mulder's Review

Hannah Peterson's directorial debut, The Graduates, is a deeply sensitive and thought-provoking exploration of the aftermath of a school shooting. In a world where the shock of such events has become all too familiar, this film stands out for its intimate and deeply emotional approach to the subject. Avoiding sensationalism, the film delves into the lives of the survivors, showing their struggles and healing processes with remarkable authenticity.

The story revolves around Genevieve (Mina Sundwall), a high school senior coping with the loss of her boyfriend, Tyler, in a tragic school shooting. The film is set a year after the event, allowing the characters to take center stage as they deal with the indelible scars left by the violence. What sets The Graduates apart is its deliberate decision to avoid explicit depictions of the shooting itself, focusing instead on the emotional aftermath, emphasizing the long-term impact on individuals and communities.

Mina Sundwall's interpretation of Genevieve is a remarkable performance that captures the complexity of survival. Through nuanced body language and facial expressions, Sundwall conveys the weight of grief, confusion and survivor's guilt that Genevieve experiences. John Cho, as Tyler's father and the school's basketball coach, delivers a performance of understated power, underscoring the unique pain of losing a parent and the resilience needed to continue coaching his team.

Hannah Peterson's approach as a director favors subtlety and atmosphere, reflecting the winding path of grief. The film's deliberate pacing and emphasis on nuanced interactions reinforce its authenticity, avoiding melodrama and allowing emotions to shine through naturally. Flashbacks reveal the characters' pasts, strengthening our bond with them and underlining their transformation since the tragedy.

The beauty of the film lies in its discreet moments, where comfort is found in small gestures. Gen's habit of watching videos of Tyler and Ben's (Alex Hibbert) voicemails to his friend are poignant reflections of their grief. The film masterfully captures the daily challenges of survival, from returning to school with metal detectors to invasive lockdown drills, while coping with the emptiness left by the absence of lockers adorned with loving tributes.

Despite the heaviness of the subject matter, the film manages to create moments of levity and connection between the characters. The budding bond between Gen and Ben, both united by the loss of a loved one, adds depth and authenticity to their individual journeys, resulting in some of the film's most moving scenes.

The Graduates avoids big revelations or sensational drama, instead offering a heartfelt exploration of how tragedy forever alters lives. Hannah Peterson's directorial debut demonstrates her ability to portray the complexities of human emotion and the subtleties of dealing with immense pain. In a world desensitized by headlines about mass shootings, the film serves as a poignant reminder of the lasting effects on those directly affected.

While the deliberate pacing may not resonate with all audiences, the film's commitment to authenticity and emphasis on the healing power of human connection make The Graduates an essential addition to the conversation around a pressing and relevant topic. In a landscape often dominated by sensationalism, this film bears witness to the lasting impact of grief and the strength of the human spirit. Hannah Peterson's directorial debut heralds the arrival of a filmmaker unafraid to tackle profound subjects with sensitivity and depth, inviting audiences to contemplate the complexities of the human experience.

The graduates
Written and directed by Hannah Peterson
Produced by Jessamine Burgum, Josh Peters, Taylor Shung, Saba Zereh
Starring Mina Sundwall, Alex Hibbert, John Cho, Yasmeen Fletcher, Ewan Manley, Maria Dizzia, Kelly O'Sullivan
Music by Andrew Orkin
Cinematography : Carolina Costa               
Edited by Hannah Peterson                         
Running time : 87 minutes

Seen on september 5 2023 at Deauville international center

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