Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Big Chill


When this came out, there were some who complained about its resemblance to a John Sayles movie with a much lower budget and no big-name stars, Return of the Secaucus 7, which also deals with a reunion of former semi-radical students. It’s a good film, but this one is better. In the case of The Big Chill, the occasion for the gathering is the funeral of one of their number, who killed himself. Each of them has changed, which is to be expected. I was a very different person at 40 than I was at 20. You might have been, too, those of you who have reached 40. I always wonder about people who don’t change, at least a little, as they age. Did they really have it all figured out as a youth? Maybe they did. I’m not one to say.

There’s little point in getting into the “plot,” because there isn’t much of one, in the traditional sense. It’s all in what these people were, and who they have become, and the increasingly complicated relationships that develop during these few days together again. The main attraction here is the cast of actors who were relatively new to the movies, many of whom became much bigger stars later: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. You will notice that some of them did not get a lot bigger, and I always wonder just what is it that determines that. Some intangible quality, because all of them are just great. It was co-written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, probably best known for co-writing the first three installments of the Star Wars phenomenon.