Harold and Maude

Director: Hal Ashby
Year Released: 1972
Rating: 1.5

Ashby's blacker-than-black comedy about a young man (Bud Cort) who is obsessed with death and tries to kill himself in a variety of interesting ways (including lighting himself on fire, driving off a cliff, slitting his wrists, etc.). He attends funerals on a regular basis and has dropped out of school. One day, while at the cemetery, he runs into Maude (Ruth Gordon), an old woman with a lust-for-life. Naturally, Harold falls in love with Maude, embraces her view of life and she dies, cuz hey, she's old, remember? Some parts are good - his suicide attempts are a blast to watch and Gordon's performance is worth seeing - but there are many problems, unfortunately. First off, Cat Stevens' score is played WAY too much: by the end of the film, you'd think you heard the whole album. Second, Cort's character can be a glib enigma (Why does he want to kill himself? Why isn't he on medication or something? Why doesn't anyone take him seriously?). The film's message is obvious: of course life is better than death, who would think otherwise except for the insane or chronically depressed?