Meet Harold, a morbid teenager who fakes elaborate suicides to get a rise out of his waspy mother and also enjoys long walks at the cemetery. Meet Maude, a widow on the brink of 80 who sails through life without regret and is a collector of others valuables, a grand theft auto enthusiast and part-time environmental activist. When these two run into each other at their favorite past-time, funeral crashing, what starts off as an unexpected friendship grows into a timeless romance.
This synopsis is true on the surface, but this is not the reason the movie has been a cult classic for decades. From the opener a panning scene focuses solely on dress shoes with the melodies of Cat Stevens leading you unpredictably to a darker, yet unexpectedly comical and recurring incident of the film. At this point you begin to realize that this is much more than a rom-com, and actually shouldn’t even be categorized as so.
The dualism of life and death is an obvious motif used bluntly throughout the film and usually shown in succession. Coinciding with this, the picture ingeniously makes a mockery of serious subject matters that society deems offensive, taboo, or immoral usually at the expense of one of the supporting cast. Theses memorable side characters are used primarily to bridge the development and fluidity of the plot, but they also unconsciously bring outlandish and dry humor with them. When looking beyond this observable narrative, you will see Harold and Maude dancing, singing, or usually causing mischief in pure spontaneity.
The layers of both Harold and Maude bloom in sync with their love story showing their true colors with every courageous step. This film is undoubtedly held together by the unlikely bond between these two characters, but the core of the message is deeper than simply the “power of love”. These two spirits were brought together to bring forth the realization of their fragile moralities, teaching each other to cherish these brief moments and embrace the inevitable.