The Big Chill (1983)

The Big Chill (1983)

Taglines: How much love, sex, fun and friendship can a person take?

A seminal Thirty-Something movie in which a group of old college friends who are now all grown up and hardened by the big wide world come together for the funeral of Alex, a barely glimpsed corpse, who was at one time the brightest and the best of them, and yet who never managed to achieve half as much as any of the others. The friends use the occasion to reacquaint themselves with each other and to speculate as to what happened to their idealism which had been abundant when they were younger.

The Big Chill is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. The plot focuses on a group of baby boomer college friends who reunite after 15 years when one of their old comrades, Alex, commits suicide without warning. Kevin Costner was cast as Alex, but all scenes showing his face were cut.

The Big Chill was filmed entirely on location in Beaufort, South Carolina and was shot at Tidalholm Mansion, the same antebellum house used as a location for The Great Santini. The soundtrack features soul, R&B and pop-rock musicians from the 1960s and 70s, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Rolling Stones and Three Dog Night.

The Big Chill (1983)

About the Story

Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) is bathing his young son when his wife, Sarah (Glenn Close), receives a phone call at their Richmond home telling her that their friend, Alex, has committed suicide by slashing his wrists in the bathtub of their vacation house in South Carolina, where he had been staying.

At the funeral, Harold and Sarah are reunited with college friends from the University of Michigan. They include Sam (Tom Berenger), a famous television actor now living in Los Angeles; Meg (Mary Kay Place), a chain smoking former public defender who is now a real estate attorney in Atlanta and wants a child; Michael (Jeff Goldblum), a sex-obsessed People magazine journalist; Nick (William Hurt), a Vietnam War veteran and former radio host who suffers from impotence; Karen (JoBeth Williams), a housewife from suburban Detroit who’s unhappy in her marriage to her advertising executive husband, Richard (Don Galloway). Also present is Chloe (Meg Tilly), Alex’s much younger girlfriend.

After the burial, everyone goes from the cemetery to Harold and Sarah’s vacation house, where they are invited to stay for the weekend. During the first night there, a bat flies into the attic while Meg and Nick are getting reacquainted. Sam later finds Nick watching television, and they briefly talk about Karen. The two then go into the kitchen and find Richard making a sandwich, and the three make small talk which turns into a discussion about responsibility and adulthood. At the end of the discussion, Richard states, “Nobody said it was going to be fun. At least, nobody said it to me.”

The next morning Harold and Nick go jogging. Harold tells Nick that his running shoe company is about to be bought out by a large corporation, and that he’s about to become rich. Harold confides in Nick that Sarah and Alex had an affair five years earlier. Nick comforts Harold by saying, “She didn’t marry Alex.”

Richard returns home to look after his kids, but Karen decides to stay in South Carolina for the weekend. Nick, Harold, Michael and Chloe go for a drive (Good Lovin’ from The Rascals playing on the car radio), while Sam and Karen go shopping. Meg reveals to Sarah that she wants to have a child, and that she is going to ask Sam to be the father, knowing now that Nick can’t. Out in the countryside, Harold listens to Michael’s plans to buy a nightclub. Chloe takes Nick to the abandoned house that she and Alex were going to renovate. She tells him that he reminds her of Alex, to which Nick replies, “I ain’t him.”

The Big Chill Movie Poster (1983)

The Big Chill (1983)

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams
Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan, Barbara Benedek
Production Design by: Ida Random
Cinematography by: John Bailey
Film Editing by: Carol Littleton
Costume Design by: April Ferry
Set Decoration by: George Gaines
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: September 28, 1983