The Directory in DK Canada’s The Movie Book brings me another classic that I should have seen long ago, and now, have finally been able to remedy that.
Combining dark humour with an offbeat romance, Ashby’s film embraces eccentricity while reminding us to live for today. Young Harold (Bud Cort – who looks twelve) has a fascination with death. He pranks his mother (Vivian Pickles) with his suicide attempts over and over, though there’s more to it than he realises, and for a good time, he enjoys going to funerals.
It’s at one such funeral that he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), an older woman coasting, joyfully towards her 80th birthday. The two form an unlikely relationship, which leads to a romantic liaison, and eventually teaches Harold to embrace life, and see what he’s missing, but hold onto the eccentricities that make him unique.
Featuring great music by Cat Stevens the film though dated by its look, does not seem aged in its subject matter and is still as darkly funny now as it was when it first came out. It has been hailed as a fantastic romantic comedy, and has garnered a cult following over the years.
I found it entertaining, but honestly, could not get over how young Cort looks in this film. Even seeing him behind the wheel of a car wasn’t enough to convince me he was hold enough to drive; honestly, I had to look it up on IMDB to find out how old he was during the making of the film, and even then I scoffed.
Delightfully offbeat, I loved seeing the way Harold drove his mother up the wall with his suicides, his interactions with potential dates, and the reveal of his relationship with Maude. And his reworking of his new car into something more apropos is hilarious.
Both Cort and Gordon are wonderful in this film, conjuring a believable relationship, and some enjoyable chemistry, even as Maude pushes Harold to embrace life, and find his own way.
This was a film that I’m glad I waited to watch. I would not have appreciated it as a younger viewer. In fact, if I had seen it while I was working in a video store, I would have hated it, and not understood why so many people had told me to watch it. Although I would have enjoyed Tom Skerritt’s minor role.
Coming to it now, I can see both characters clearly. I understand them, and I got so much out of the film. And that is why cinema is always a growing, learning thing for me.
So, if you haven’t seen this one, maybe it’s time. Or if you have, maybe it’s time to pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a classic you should have seen before and watch it tonight.