Seeing The Big Chill makes me wish I had gone to a co-ed college like the University of Michigan instead of a small All-Girls college with 500 students. Of course, it would have its downers too as we saw in The Big Chill.
The movie begins with the funeral of Alex, the central figure in the film, whom we never see. His seven close classmates from Michigan reune after several years to pay their respects to Alex who has committed suicide, and nobody knows why. This initiates great supposition on the part of his friends who spend the weekend of the funeral at the home of a couple from the group, Harold and Sarah Cooper, (played by Kevin Kline and Glenn Close).
As the story unfolds, we are made aware of the bonds that have been forged by this octet although they have each gone on with their lives in different directions since graduation. We discover that pairings had existed in Michigan among the group, innocent dalliances and serious affairs, which did not materialize. The reunion weekend served to bring those relationships back into focus.
This movie was made in 1983 when most of the players had not yet reached their peak of success which came for all of them eventually. Kevin Kline and Glenn Close, mentioned above, have achieved great popularity and accomplishments, along with their co-stars Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, and Meg Tilly. They all seemed to take genuine pleasure in the companionship of each other. It would be interesting to know if they may have reunited more frequently than the characters they portrayed.
The Big Chill was filmed entirely on location in Beaufort, South Carolina. I have seen the palatial home that was the setting for The Big Chill as well as for the movie The Great Santini.
A lot of sorting out has to take place as the old friends face their present reality. They can’t go back to their carefree college days, but it appears that they won’t let their strong bond disintegrate a second time. The weekend, although a sad one, has brought their respective lives into perspective, and each one, we are certain, is better for the brief look at his/her past life in comparison to present circumstances.
I challenge any viewer of this movie to refrain from mulling over his own past life after seeing The Big Chill.
Movie: The Big Chill (1983)