The Big Chill

by Tom Ingram

Genre Comedy
People Kevin Kline; Lawrence Kasdan w.d.p.; Tom Berenger; Glenn Close; Jeff Goldblum; William Hurt; JoBeth Williams; Kevin Costner
/10 8

A group of friends who went to school together in the sixties reunite after their ‘leader’ (Kevin Costner’s body parts) commits suicide. The weekend after the funeral is spent reminiscing, mourning, and half-heartedly reenacting the excesses of youth. Kevin Kline is a sad clown and de facto new ‘leader’ of the gang, who has gone from college revolutionary to shrewd upper-middle class businessman. Jeff Goldblum is the lecherous and unpleasant tagalong who you have to wonder why they even let him stay with them. Tom Berenger is an actor on a bad cop show. William Hurt is an obvious candidate for the next one to commit suicide.

I suppose this is technically a comedy, but there are few laugh-out-loud moments. As Ebert says, “It has all the right moves. It knows all the right words. Its characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there’s no payoff and it doesn’t lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it’s the movie’s message.” It’s a cold, cold film, but it inspires contemplation. It feels like it’s groping around in the dark for something of terrible but ineffable importance.


1h45m; 1983; Colour; Oscar nods for Best Actress (Glenn Close), Screenplay, Picture; The soundtrack is available as a very nice album.

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