Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harold and Maude @ The Charles Theatre this week

Monday, December 1 at 7PM
Thursday, December 4 at 9PM

1972 Dir. Hal Ashby, Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Ellen Geer. 90m.

Bud Cort is Harold, a rich, suicidal introvert with a soft, unformed face-he's 19 but looks younger. Ruth Gordon is poor but spunky Maude, the wizened 79-year-old woman who's like a cheerleader for Life. She lives in a railway car, would like to change into a sunflower, frets over how to save an ailing tree,prankishly steals vehicles and drives crazily; she advises Harold to "reach out." In this satirical-whimsical romantic comedy, directed by Hal Ashby from a script by Colin Higgins, Harold reaches out by falling in love with Maude, and their love is consummated on the eve of her 80th birthday. Many young moviegoers have returned to this eccentric film repeatedly (in 1974, one 22-year-old claimed to have seen it 138 times); maybe this is partly because of its mixture of the maudlin and the highly sophisticated. The message is not very different from that of HELLO, DOLLY! or MAME, but Harold's flaccid asexuality (he's like a sickly infant, a limp, earthbound Peter Pan) and Maude's advanced stage ofpixiness give that message a special freaky quality. And the film has been made with considerable wit and skill. The early scenes, in which Harold tries out various gruesome methods of suicide without scaring his unflappable mother (Vivian Pickles), have a stylized humor. But Ashby has directed eccentrically...
(Pauline Kael)