Saturday, 20 December 2014

''Harold and Maude'' (1971 movie)- Review

Directed by: Hal Ashby
Released: 1971
Country: United States

Genres: Romantic comedy, Dark comedy, Drama

Cast: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles, Charles Tyner

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


''Harold and Maude'', directed by Hal Ashby, has it all: feel-good romantic comedy elements, extremely dark humor, hilarity, as well as emotional depth. It is a hilarious, witty, darkly humorous, romantic, (sometimes) mischievous and sweet film.

Harold Chasen (Bud Cort), in his early 20s, is obsessed with deaths and funerals. One of his favorite hobbies is to fake his own suicide. He has done it so many times that it does not scare his mother (played by Vivian Pickles) anymore. During his visits to funerals, he often notices an elderly lady (Ruth Gordon), and one day, the woman approaches him. She introduces herself as Maude. She is 79. Maude is happy-go-lucky, and lives life to the fullest. Mischiveous, extremely lively, and defying her age, she often gets into cars that don't belong to her and drive off. Her actions, undoubtedly, surprise Harold. With the passage of time, Harold and Maude become really close. When it comes to characteristics and lifestyle, Harold and Maude are exactly opposite: while Harold finds life hopeless and not worth living, the 79-year-old Maude loves her life, lives life to the fullest. Gradually, Maude teaches Harold that life is worth living, that life has to be enjoyed. Harold finds himself falling in love with Maude- and it is genuine, pure love.

''Harold and Maude'' is sometimes extremely funny, extremely hilarious, yet sometimes really touching, really very sweet. Both Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon give perfectly amazing performances. Ruth Gordon is so cute, so sweet! She is perfect in her role as the happy-go-lucky and mischievous Maude. Similarly, Bud Cort also gives an excellent performance. Vivian Pickles, as Harold's mother, is really good as well. I should also mention Ellen Geer, who plays Sunshine. Harold's mother arranges dates between Harold and three different woman, as she wants Harold to get married and settle down. One of these three women is Sunshine, an actress. Harold tries to scare her off, like he had scared the two previous women, but Sunshine, a talented actress, remains unmoved by Harold's trick, and instead peforms such a trick that manages to shock- if not scare- Harold. Ellen Geer's role is short, but really very amusing.

While there are sweet moments of romance, there are darkly witty moments as well. The very first scene of the film comes as a surprise. We see Harold hanging himself. His mother enters the room, and we naturally expect her to scream. But instead, she doesn't even react. We look at her, surprised. Only then do we realize that she is used to seeing this: Harold often fakes suicides, and his mother has seen him faking suicides so many times that she is now quite used to it. The thing he did at the very beginning of the film is such an example of his fake suicides.

To sum it up, ''Harold and Maude'' has humor, romance, and emotional depth. There were scenes that made me laugh and laugh and laugh, and still make me laugh when I think of them, and there are scenes that are really touching. It is a wonderful little film.

4.5 out of 5


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