The Women in The Big Chill.
Slick ensemble acting and witty dialogue spark the wry interpersonal relationships portrayed in this month’s must-see movie The Big Chill, directed by Lawrence Kasdan. There are four of them. One is a sleekly groomed wife of an upward striver, who is yearning to escape humdrum domesticity and her husband’s Maalox. Another is married to a congenial and successful businessman, and balances her familial devotion with a medical career. A third, on the brink of spinsterhood, finds that being a talented lawyer does not fill the void of not being a mother. The fourth, a latter-day flower-child, moves in slightly mysterious ways, communing with her inner self, but sending up sweet vibes that charm middle-aged men.
Played by JoBeth Williams, Glenn Close, who can’t seem to quit smiling beatifically, Mary Kay Place, and a not quite sullen Meg Tilly, they each in a way represent the nuances of that bewildering psychological contest of marriage vs. career, children and family vs. self-expression, love vs. ego.
The women have gathered-with the men in their present and past lives-to attend the funeral of a college friend who committed suicide. Except for the inamorata of the deceased, they all were once free spirits together at Ann Arbor in the long-haired ‘60s, trying to topple the totems of bourgeois ideals with their rebellious chatter and the fierce glow of their joints. Now it is the equable ‘80s, and in the wake of their friend’s parting they reminisce, attempt to rekindle old flames and recapture the ineffable delight they all took in simply being together.
The male leads are played by a subdued Kevin Kline as the doctor’s husband-and everyone else’s helpmate; a sexy Tom Berenger; a talky Jeff Goldblum, and a dispassionate William Hurt as a loner trying to forget Vietnam.