Blu-ray reissue: Harold and Maude ****

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 30, 2012)

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Harold and Maude – Criterion Collection Blu-ray

Harold loves Maude. And Maude loves Harold. It’s a match made in heaven-if only “society” would agree. Because Harold (Bud Cort) is a teenager, and Maude (Ruth Gordon) is about to turn 80. Falling in love with a woman old enough to be his great-grandmother is the least of Harold’s quirks. He’s a chronically depressed trustafarian who amuses himself by staging fake suicides to freak out his patrician mother (played by a  wonderfully droll Vivian Pickles). He also “enjoys” attending funerals-which is where they Meet Cute.

The effervescent Maude is Harold’s diametric opposite; while he wallows in morbid speculation how any day could be your last, she seizes each day as if it actually were. Obviously, she has something to teach him. Despite dark undertones, this is one “midnight movie” that somehow manages to be life-affirming. The late Hal Ashby directed, and Colin Higgins wrote the screenplay. The memorable soundtrack is by Cat Stevens (the disc features a recent interview with the reclusive musician, who for the first time talks about how the songs came together). Criterion’s transfer is outstanding.

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