Lawrence Kasdan | 1hr 45min
Most of all though, these friends are all haunted by the grief felt for the suicide of a man they thought they knew so well. Kevin Costner was originally cast in the role of Alex, the deceased friend, and although all of his scenes were cut from the film, that feeling of emptiness remains, leaving a great deal of ambiguity in our minds around his character. What prompted this act to begin with? Did he realise some great, despairing truth about the hopelessness of living in modern America that hasn’t settled in for the others yet? Why didn’t he share his pain with them? Could it have even just been a freak accident?
While many of his friends are happy to distract themselves from the tough questions for a while, the lack of answers forces them to turn inwards to consider their own insecurities. Sam, a famous TV star, is the one to prompt this contemplation, as he in particular feels the great weight of a reputation that he can’t live up to pressing in on his life. All throughout The Big Chill, he finds that he is only ever celebrated and respected for the accomplishments of the character he plays on television, despite not even being able to smoothly leap into a convertible like he is so famous for. It is in this group of friends who have seen him at his most awkward and vulnerable, as a young adult, that he finds genuine acceptance. Though it is far from a permanent fix, this insular world that keeps alive the spirit of a bygone era is the one he, and the rest of his friends, wish to live in. Eventually the cynicism and meaningless of a nihilistic, contemporary American culture will creep back into their lives, but for now, this brief return to a hopeful past is all they have to cling onto.
The Big Chill is available to stream on the Criterion Channel and Binge, and available to rent or buy on YouTube.