Much imitated but never bettered, The Big Chill brought together a group of college friends who had known each other since the Sixties, in order to reassess their lives and careers.
The setting was the beautiful seaside home of happily married Sarah (Glenn Close) and Harold (Kevin Kline). The occasion was the suicide of Alex (Kevin Costner), one of their number.
Attending the weekend wake were Sam (Tom Berenger) as a well-known (and recently divorced) TV personality, Michael (Jeff Goldblum) as a sexually over-active wise guy who gave up a promising career as a rabble-rousing investigative journalist and now writes for People magazine, Nick (William Hurt) as an injured Vietnam veteran, Meg (Mary Kay Place) as a career woman desperately seeking a private life, and Karen (JoBeth Williams) as a grass widow for the duration of the weekend as her husband returns home to their two kids soon after arriving.
Having dispensed with the obligatory period of grieving for the dead friend, the group indulge in a great deal of retrospective talk in an effort to understand the present, with some even plotting their future.
The story was written with enough perspicacity about upwardly mobile people in their thirties to keep that particular group in a constant state of ‘relating’.
The Big Chill was beautifully and convincingly acted by every member of the cast, including Meg Tilly as the deceased’s young girlfriend, Chloe, whose unemotional response to her lover’s suicide is of concern to the rest of the group.
The movie was directed by Lawrence Kasdan with exemplary restraint and profitably produced by Michael Shamberg.
It is unlikely TV’s thirtysomething would have existed without The Big Chill.
Mary Kay Place