The Big Chill

1983, R, 103 min. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, Jobeth Williams.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Nov. 6, 1998

Excerpted from original review: The cooled embers of idealistic passions, the sudden “face-to-face” with mortality, the illumination of the present by the rekindled hearth of the past – this is just some of the terrain explored in The Big Chill. A group of old college friends who shared a house together during the late 1960s are reunited at the funeral of one of their former housemates who has inexplicably committed suicide. For over a decade they had drifted apart, but the weekend they spend together in the funeral's aftermath catalyzes each character's individual reassessment of his or her present circumstances and chosen path in light of the optimism and assuredness of their reglimpsed youth. Each member of the well-chosen cast not only creates a distinct character with unique and memorable resonances but also meshes these separate personalities to form as satisfying an example of ensemble acting as we are likely to see for quite some time to come. This comfortable ensemble quality ironically accounts for one of the film's minor miscalculations: the ease with which the group falls back into their old patterns of trust and familiarity after an awkwardly long period of separation is narratively convenient, but not really probable. Also, these fictive representatives of the Sixties have for the most part achieved more personal and professional success than is generally common. So their weekend preoccupation with the dashed hopes of their youth and the rationalizations of their maturity sometimes appears a luxurious commodity. Among the film's other delights is its extraordinary soundtrack.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Lawrence Kasdan Films
Darling Companion
Diane Keaton leads a wonderful cast in this so-so story about a lost dog and its unmoored people.

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 18, 2012

Dreamcatcher
Dreamcatcher, an adaptation of Stephen King’s unwieldy horror/sci-fi novel of the same name, is either a canny metaphor for the country’s current paranoia regarding terrorism ...

Marc Savlov, March 21, 2003

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Parallel Mothers
Almodóvar and Cruz's latest pairing unearths Spain's history

Jan. 21, 2022

This Job Will Change Your Life
This Job Will Change Your Life
Former staff reflect on the zigs and zags of life post-Chronicle

Sept. 3, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Big Chill, Lawrence Kasdan, Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, Jobeth Williams

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle