Harold and Maude is an American black-comedy drama film directed by Hal Ashby. It incorporates themes of dark humor and existentialst drama. The story follows the adventures of Harold Chasen (Bud Court), a young man who is obsessed with death, and who rejects the life his disconnected mother (Vivian Pickles) gives to him. Harold develops a friendship and then romatic relationship, with 79 year old Maude (Ruth Gordon) who teaches Harold about the importance of living life gto the fullest.
Harold is so intrigued with death, he reenacts suicides, drives a hearse, reads obituaries and goes to funerals of random people, most of whom he doesn’t know. Maude is elderly, but doesn’t act like it all. She loves funerals too, but also steals, drives too fast, breaks the law by speeding, running stop signs and red lights and blasting music. She is young at heart, which is why Harold falls in love with her. Harold wants to marry her, but his mother refuses to allow him, given Harold and Maude’s 60 year age gap and the fact she doesn’t have many years left in her life, despite her seemingly perfect health.
This is film is billed as a dark comedy, but I see almost no humor. I don’t think suicide is something to laugh at, real or not. I also don’t think someone’s loved one dying is funny either. I see this movie as more of a drama with romance thrown in. The scene where Maude coaxes Harold into them stealing a car and she speeding away is pretty funny, but other than that, no humor.
This movie is a bit disturbing. Just the fact the lead character is obsessed with dying and ways to die is unsettling and the fact he falls for an elderly woman. This silm is far too dark for a PG rating. I can’t imagine letting an eight year old watch it and them understanding and enjoying it. Too dark, or really just plain inappropriate for kids.
Harold should have been institutionalized, as his love for death is deeply disturbing. Maude should not have been allowed to drive, or even let outside, since she likes to prey on much younger fellows. The acting is great throughout. But this film is far too dark. Had there had been more light, more sun, it would likely been at least a little more enjoyable. I just don’t understand all the hoopla with this movie and why it is a film school staple. It has hardly any redeeming qualities aside from the excellent acting and Cat Stevens soundtrack. It is slow, dark, boring and depressing. No wonder it was a box-office bomb when it was first released.
The movie’s soundtrack is by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens. The theme song is the feel good “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” by Stevens and after seeing this film, one will never hear this song the same way again. They will only associate this song with the film and it dark themes and sad scenes.
Great acting and music doesn’t help in the enjoyment department, as this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I found myself feeling so uneasy and so bored, I was glad when it was over.
Don’t waste your time on this movie. It may be a classic, but it is far from being a masterpiece. 13+ 1.5/5