A seminal baby boomer angst session, The Big Chill proved enormously popular with audiences who saw their own thirty-something anxieties brought to life with the aid of an impossibly catchy soundtrack. The film eulogized the lost ideals and enthusiasms of the 1960s and pondered what, if anything, had taken their place. The film begins with the funeral of Alex, long considered the best and brightest of the group of friends, whose death and burial symbolize the collective death of a relentlessly mythologized, sentimentalized era. The survivors are left to scratch their heads, smoke some pot, and dance around the kitchen in an effort to figure out what happened, and why. It is a testament to Lawrence Kasdan's strengths as a writer and director that, while the film does dip its toe repeatedly in the collective pool of nostalgia, it tends more towards melancholy reflection than sentimental excess. The friends question what happened to the promise of their youth, but they do so with an eye towards explaining their present state, rather than trying to recreate their past glories. It is little surprise that this sort of reflective meditation hit such a chord with its audience, many of whom were easing into the same sort of complacent, suburban lifestyle that they may have once claimed to abhor. Composed of equal parts mourning and acceptance, The Big Chill became an anthem for a generation trying to accept the fact that their present was not the future they had hoped it would be.
by Rebecca Flint Marx review