Characters struggling to find their way amid conflicting beliefs can
be more interesting than plot-derived conflict. These stories, focusing
on character to the exclusion of almost everything else, have always
been the types of films I wanted to make. The script of Harry
and Max seemed to fit that bill. It came about suddenly, and
with some urgency, as if its two heroes wanted their story told. The
process of shooting the film reflected this urgency: after much work
on the script and intensive rehearsal, it was a short production schedule,
with a tiny crew—a return to the simplicity of my early projects.
The teen idol phenomenon has always seemed wrought with pathos and
emotional complications just beneath its sugar-coated surface. With
Harry and Max—two brothers appearing whole-cloth
and ready to delve into their rambunctious sexual machinations—there
seemed an opportunity to combine serious character study with an aspect
of pop culture that would hopefully keep things from getting too heavy.
Also, it was a chance to paint an incestuous relationship that was unlike
the “bad” or “coercive” ones we sometimes see
in films and on T.V., at least in the U.S. In our case the incest aspect
is just one part of the boys’ maturation—and one with which
they must eventually come to terms. But this doesn’t mean they
can’t have fun along the way. They should be as matter-of-fact
with each other as any two brothers. Moreover, it was always clear that
Harry and Max were to be each other’s most generous friend
and advocate. They would push each other around in their search for
their own identities.
And in his genuine and loving concern for Max (apart from whatever
erotic preoccupation steals its way into his consciousness on what we
are to presume is a somewhat regular basis), Harry finds a sense of
his own adult
personality—the thoughtful, warm, humorous Harry that has often
been eclipsed by the impulsive, reckless and fearful Harry—and
what he must do to get there. It won’t be an easy road. Max, on
the other hand, has been dealt a strong hand in life—he has an
energetic and far-reaching intelligence plus good looks that will serve
him well in the finicky and ephemeral pop scene. But it is on the very
career that he has been handed (which his mother is determined to maximize
in the wake of Harry’s blundering) that Max must finally turn
his back. Or does he? Could it be that Max takes all he has seen and
done and out of it builds a career of sanity and good citizenship?
In order to answer these questions, and to see more of the boys and
their cohorts for whom I had developed great affection, it was my initial
hope to make Harry and Max as a television series.
But alas that has not yet happened. Indeed, I’ve been taken aback
by some of the reactions to the film: it’s as if part of the audience
is responding not to the movie but to their own fears and prejudices.
On the other hand, quite a number of people have approached me after
screenings to thank me for making a film that touched on their own lives.
Whatever an audience brings to the film, I hope they will bring an enquiring
mind and willingness to see the great, loving potential in all human