The Big Chill: 15th Anniversary Edition

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Eric Alan

Plot: What’s it about?

The biggest chill

The keys to a classic are found in the following:
A story that everyone can relate to…even if you don’t have any dead friends.

Music you can sing and dance to…just as if it is your own cd collection…even if the music is before your time. An ensembles cast of almost nobodies that will to greater and lesser extents have great careers but who all will prove themselves.

And a truly ironic use of a great Rolling Stones song.

“The Big Chill” starts with death and ends up celebrating life.

A group of old college buddies get together for a weekend immediately following the death of their friend Alex. Ten years after college Alex has committed suicide. And his death helps the rest of their characters reevaluate and appreciate their own lives.

“Nobody said it would be fun. At least nobody said it to me,” One supporting character says.

“The Big Chill” is one of the pioneering and trend setting “characters studies with ensemble casts”. Although its not really individual characters that are studied but something more universal.

Everyone watching this group mull through there loss of their friend should connect with most viewers.

“Life is always fun” and “you can’t always get what you want”, but you can learn to accept life comprises…letting some values go while holding on to the really important ones.

And watching this film you can have such a good time doing both. Kevin Kline [after just having done “Sophie’s Choice” and a few other small films] and Glenn Close [having only played Robin William’s mother in “Garp”] play the hosts while a handful of old friends stay for the weekend. William Hurt’s character has to accept life chances from being a war veteran …he is “drifting” through life…without seeing any purpose. Mary Kay Place has a dilemma of needing to mother a child but doesn’t want the burden of husband. Jeff Goldblum is the “People Magazine” journalist that has to contend with the compromises of his “writing career.” Tom Berenger is the “Magnum, PI” style TV actor that has to deal with a success built on top of an equal degree of artistic comprises. Rounding out the cast are Jobeth Williams as a wife who has married a man that has neve really even been her friend and Meg Tilly as the four month girlfriend of Alex.

No one’s life has become what they expected of their lives. They all have become muted. William Hurts character’s loss of sexual function in Vietnam is clearly a metaphor for all the other’s character impotence in life. Compromise leads to disillusionment and impotence.

But it’s all about listening to the Rolling Stones and Smokey Robbins on and Marvin Gaye and always remembering to have a “joy to the world.”

Video: How does it look?

The simple but elegant cinematography of this movie makes this a subtle visual treat. A nice anamporphic transfer is does it justice.

Audio: How does it sound?

Well, its hardly a special effects movie and the music is all from the sixties and simple steeor recording…but this is a delight for the ears.

Supplements: What are the extras?

And excellent 50 minute documentary graces this film as well as about 10 minutes of four deleted scenes…all very nice and insightful. The two big disappointments here are the lack of audio commentary and mostly because even though the documentary refers to the deleted scenes with Kevin Costner…they are not included. This is a story that has been around for ages and I and many other people would have loved to have seen some of this footage. I can’t imagine why they didn’t include it.

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