Tag Archives: Cat Stevens

Harold and Maude (1971)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Harold and Maude</strong> (1971)

(In French, On TV, December 2018) As much as I respect and understand the forces that led to the New Hollywood of 1967–1977, I cannot and most likely will never be able to muster any kind of enthusiasm or affection for it. Films of that era and sensibilities remain almost uniformly grim, pointless and unpleasant. Case in point: Harold and Maude, which details the growing affection between a death-obsessed teenager and a much older woman. Affected with the typical disaffection of an early-1970s protagonist, Harold drives his parents crazy, can’t relate to the world and is intrigued by the idea of suicide. Meanwhile, Maude is an elderly free-spirit living life to the fullest but with the intention of checking out on her own terms at 80 years of age. It’s a strange, off-beat, morbid movie, but calling it a comedy feels like a stretch, especially when there’s very little joy to be found in its exasperating execution. Helmed by Hal Ashby (whom I’m increasingly recognizing as a director who does nothing for me), it’s clearly a reflection of the increased freedom that filmmakers enjoyed at the time. I can’t help, however, than to think that whatever Harold and Maude brought to the film world has been fully integrated in the corpus and doesn’t have much left to say if you don’t enjoy it on its own terms. The Cat Stevens music is as dated as the film itself, and if Harold and Maude is worth a look for a pure undiluted shot of New Hollywood, nobody is forcing anyone to enjoy it.