Yes, this film does sound horribly gross – a young man romancing an elderly lady? In theory, that is a disgusting idea. However, Harold and Maude is essentially a film about friendship and finding someone you enjoy spending time with, regardless of the age difference.
Ruth Gordon once again gives a magnificent performance as the latter half of the titular couple. She is adorable, quirky and hilarious as Maude. She is filled with a child-like joie de vivre, but also a surreal wisdom. She is essentially the grandmother we wish we all had, and she reminds me so much of my beloved grandmother. Every word that comes out of Gordon’s mouth is as hilarious as it is wise, and she gives one of my favorite performances in film history, and she stands as one of the most charming entertainers in film history.
Bud Cort, on the other hand, had just started his career, and boy did he start it properly. He is the perfect partner to Gordon’s manic energy and excitable nature. It is a performance of very few words, but his body language, gestures and expressions speak more than words ever could. It is a wonderfully subtle, dark performance. Unfortunately, Cort’s career never quite did reach the heights it could have, but he still has an impressive track record, and with a starring role in a film such as Harold and Maude, he will still go down in history.
Harold and Maude is not close to being a macabre or gross film – it has an enormous heart. The score by Cat Stevens is purely heavenly. Harold and Maude is a wonderful little film that is incredibly deserving of its cult status.