Liam Adam Treacy
Liam Adam Treacy
Let me be the first to ask you, folks, if you could BUY your drugs off the internet, get yourself organized and stop bothering your local dealer, would you? Watching this movie and how often the character Jordan’s phone would ring practically gave me hives - seeing how much traffic he was getting—supply and demand, of course. Obviously, I get it, you gotta be answering those calls full-time amidst the hustle & grind of the underground business & all, but I’ll be damned if there wouldn’t be days where I’d want to crawl under a rock and hide away if I had that much activity on my phone. Which I suppose is why I’d be a lot more likely to be one of Jordan’s clients than I would ever be as a dealer. Sure, I’ve spent my time loving different drugs like so many folks around the world have, but I’ve also spent way longer hating my phone, I assure you.
“Graduation” is a tough, thought-provoking film in many unique ways. There are some high-quality ideas here – pun intended! The party scenes with Robert, Adam, Emily, Sophie, and Sarah, for example, were nothing short of brilliant. Not only are they filmed in a spectacular way by Writer/Director Liam Adam Treacy and the team - and have their scenes filled in cleverly with a running narrative that is shown to us through subtitles, but the pinpoint accuracy of ye olde drug-fueled night couldn’t be more spot on. The celebratory spirit of the fun to be had, the eventual arguments that are bound to take place, copious amounts of miscommunication, the initial purchase, the likeliness of having to re-up, the fun, joy and happiness of the moment itself - and the eventual comedown and disappointments – it’s all there where it should be. Treacy does a remarkable job of detailing exactly how it really goes. He also shows exactly how quickly a great night can become a life-changing disaster scenario. Buckle up.
Even though I’m fairly well-versed in the drug realm, Mephedrone was a unique one to learn about. I’ve always felt there are those out there looking for party drugs, which I’d reckon this one is, and then there is a more niche crowd that is searching for something more specific, like healing, learning, or a coping mechanism. I personally fall into the latter category. I’d take drugs like LSD or mushrooms to learn things about myself or the world, and once that ceased being useful, I’d stop – simple as that. It’s not as easy to just quit when you’re in the first category & you want the party to keep going just a little longer. The internet describes Mephedrone as a white substance. It is sold most commonly as crystals or a powder, but also in the form of capsules or pills. It can have a distinctive odour, reported to range from the smell of vanilla and bleach to stale urine or electric circuit boards. Sign me up! C’mon y’all – who wouldn’t want to do a drug that smells of “stale urine OR electric circuit boards”? Am I right? Yikes. Are those two things really that close together? I’ve never had my stale urine and electric circuit boards in the same place to find out. What a sheltered existence I’m leading, I tell you. Perhaps one day, I’ll find out.
As the party group’s night descends into utter chaos where they need outside help, you’ll find “Graduation” takes a turn into the desolate, grim & gritty terrain that is proudly occupied by films like “Go” and “Trainspotting.” Eventually, they try to piece things together in an effort to figure out what happened to Emily - and whether or not the horrific plot-twisting/party-night-ending event could have been avoided somehow. These investigators of sorts simply want to know the name of the dealer that sold them the drugs and go around quizzing the people at the party that night – and as they point out themselves, what’s the harm in giving someone a name when all they’ve done is sold drugs that can be legally obtained anyway, right? In any event, I’m sure Jordan is happier without being dragged into this.
Stylistically, I’m probably fairly indifferent about things like the use of aspect ratio as a means to tell a story. I’m not necessarily opposed to it, but the reasons why one would are very much beyond me. I don’t find it distracting, but I don’t know if it really helps in furthering a story, either. I do like that Treacy is looking to do things differently, and I definitely appreciate that. His use of colour, the absence of colour, the quick cuts and slight edits…all of that stuff looks cool onscreen and makes a short movie like “Graduation” have an added layer of visual entertainment that pairs well with its storyline. The acting is solid all the way across the board by the whole cast, and Treacy does an exceptional job of telling this tale in a unique way - that’s bound to resonate with people for a wide variety of reasons. I like that Treacy was able to wrap this story up at the end as tightly as he did while also still blurring the lines of the reasoning behind the war on drugs - and the way we receive our information about the harm they may or may not do, which in turn actually makes us question if we saw what we just saw in “Graduation” a little bit as a result.
Was Emily’s fate the result of a drug that should never have been allowed to be purchased legally – or were there potentially other issues that could have been a factor as well? We might never know for sure, but you can be certain every viewer of “Graduation” will take the opportunity to draw their own conclusions. Will what they see in this movie change their minds on what their own preconceived notions of drugs are or aren’t? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think that’s the real intention behind “Graduation” either. I think this movie exists to put a version of the story of what happened in the UK out there - and let you figure out what might have been the truth in the midst of all this madness. Smart on Treacy’s behalf as it allows for “Graduation” to become a hybrid of entertainment that features drama, mystery, and a glimpse of our humanity through an alternative lens. I’m going with a solid four stars out of five here – all in all this was really well done film.