In an ongoing and impossible attempt to catch up on basically every single movie that I’ve missed, I began dipping in and out of the 1970s this past week. More of a way to bulk up my knowledge of film and to see if there was anything I was missing. As it turns out, I’m more than embarrassed at how few movies from this time period have been watched by yours truly. To remedy this doomed situation, I took up the opportunity to watch Harold and Maude, and what a unique experience it was.
Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon’s immense chemistry is right at the core of the movie, and rightly so. What makes Harold and Maude so uniquely brilliant is that it deters from the already treaded romcom path in the strangest of ways. Big reveals, suicidal twists and intense turns build the movie into something that can’t really be classed in any one genre. It ascends classification by being so out there and vivacious.
Without a doubt the script and how it is presented to us by the cast is what makes Harold and Maude so unique. From Bud Cort’s suicidal visions to Ruth Gordon’s general weirdness, the two go hand in hand superbly well. Even when not on screen together, the two are able to stand on their own, especially Cort. It’s a shame he never really did anything else this big, aside from a small stint in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Maybe there’s some hidden gem out there that I’m missing out on, but for all of my limited knowledge of Cort, he’s a talented actor nonetheless.
Gordon is similar, her performance here may as well be career defining. It very much is for me, mainly since this is the first performance I’ve seen from her. With a consistently dark tinge to her performance, it’s no surprise I’m a fan.
One of the few 1970s films to impress me with its direction, Hal Ashby is responsible for a handful of other films I’ve been dying to check out. Namely The Last Detail and Being There. If he can continue the consistency of brilliance he offered up in Harold and Maude then I’ll have surely found a new favourite director.
I’ve not really been able to express in writing how much I would recommend this movie. A genuinely brilliant experience that you should visit as soon as you possibly can. A superb movie that has become somewhat of a cult classic, Harold and Maude is essential viewing for even the faintest of cinema fans.