An hour into Mike Nichols’ timeless second feature film, after the affair between Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) and Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) is fully formed and Benjamin’s strange behaviour has begun to irritate his parents, he comes back flying high from his forced first date with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). Mrs. Robinson, of course, opposes the idea of the date and Benjamin seems reluctant at first, but when the date goes well, he plans for another day with Elaine.
Though we’re given no previous indications in the film as to why it might possibly rain – in fact, the film looks sun-splashed prior to and after this sequence for the most part – for dramatic reasons, it starts to pour, and I mean POUR, when Benjamin drives to pick Elaine up. He meets Mrs. Robinson on his way and she threatens to tell her daughter everything if Benjamin goes through with the date. It’s a pivotal moment in the film since it both obscures everything for Benjamin who already seems confused and immature for the situation he finds himself in, and it also cleanses him, as if the dramatic reveal to Elaine (which is incredibly directed and acted, by the way) becomes easier for him to bear under the rain.
But the sequence is actually most memorable for me not because of the rain itself but for the erotic value that the wetness adds to Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson once they enter the house and open up to Elaine who, freshly out of the shower and putting her clothes on, looks clean and prim and proper standing next to them. But for Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson, their wet clothes and hair betray the carnality that their reticent eyes try to hide. They reveal their secret to Elaine without words.