Monday, July 2, 2012
MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Harold and Maude
"Harold and Maude" is an exceptional film that strikes you with its originality. This film was nothing like I expected. Based on the synopsis, I was wary that the film would focus on its morose aspects and it made me very hesitant to check it out. The film totally caught me off guard however, as it hits you with moments of absurd humour and is alternately deeply touching. Though the film does have some dark humour to it, the story transcends the "emo" characterizations of its central protagonist to produce a film that ultimately celebrates life. This protagonist is Harold, a teenage loner who is obsessed with death. While attending a funeral (his favourite pastime), he meets the elderly Maude. Equally fascinated by funerals, they become friends and the film follows the blossoming of their peculiar relationship. The film soars on the basis of her character, as her carefree, vivacious nature sets the stage for a coming-of-age experience for young Harold. At 80 years old, she is infinitely more "alive" and shows him the joys of life. Her performance works so well, that the quiet, sentimental moments between the two are deeply touching. Despite their age difference, it’s not hard to see why they would become so attached to each other. It’s a great credit to the screenplay, as their chemistry never comes across as forced or far-fetched as you expect. Apart from Bud Cort (Harold) and Ruth Gordon (Maude), Vivian Pickles also gives a stand-out performance as Harold’s mother. She attempts to instill a sense of purpose in her son’s life and provides quite a few comedic moments with her stoic, unaffected reactions to Harold’s suicide attempts. Interestingly, despite her seemingly cold nature, you never get the sense that she doesn’t love her son.
To top it off, the film features a great soundtrack by Cat Stevens. On its own, the music seems at odds with the dark comedy, but it somhow works brilliantly in providing a welcome joyous atmosphere to the film. In the end, despite the film’s pervading awareness of mortality, "Harold and Maude" is a truly heartwarming tale of love, friendship and finding happiness.
This film is part of my List of Shame.