Harold and Maude, only the second directorial effort of Hal Ashby after a successful stint as an editor, remains one of the most eccentric romantic movies ever made. The fact that a film, which can be surmised as a budding love story between a twenty-something youth obsessed with death and a freewheeling lady who shall become an octogenarian soon, and with such an idiosyncratic point of view, whimsical nature, jet black humour, absurdist tone, morbid undertones, and the audacity to thumb its nose at societal conventions with such scathing glee, could even be made, leave alone attained the status of a cult classic, speaks volumes of the decade in which it was made, viz. the 70s – one of the greatest in the history of American cinema. Irrespective of what one’s preconceptions of the movie might be, the transcendental tale of friendship and unlikely love between its two oddball characters – Harold (Bud Cort), a glum, insanely rich and deeply lonely young man with boyish looks who keeps staging bizarre suicide attempts in order to seek attention from his hilariously detached mother (Vivian Pickles), and Maude (Ruth Gordon), a flagrantly anti-establishmentarian, mischievous and perennially optimistic 79-year old lady who is punch drunk on life – is both charming and bittersweet. The series of wacky characters were wonderfully portrayed, including Charles Tyner in what a parody of pompous, Vietnam-era army men; the profundity and universality of the script was exquisitely counterbalanced by the deadpan wit, wicked humour, and loony histrionics; and the soundtrack comprised of a string of marvelous Cat Stevens compositions, including the immortal “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out”.
Director: Hal Ashby
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Coming of Age/Buddy Film/Romantic Comedy