For Reel

The Big Chill (1983)
September 20, 2015, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lawrence Kasdan
2 Stars
The Big ChillA token of Boomer nostalgia, The Big Chill is not all that different from today’s exercises in depicting youthful narcissism, indulging a mild admiration that accompanies a thin layer of self-criticism. But whereas films like Frances Ha or even the HBO series Girls go through great effort to examine the resulting messiness of said narcissism, The Big Chill has a grating tendency to end each scene with a punchline and a cut. Any observation the film has about its generation is destroyed by these castrations–this is a rare example of a film where nearly every scene ends too early, and where the (sometimes very good) one-liners prove to be only destructive. Worse yet, the fetishism of the soundtrack is a major distraction. While music is certainly relevant to discussing any period in history and, fittingly, these song choices play as an average afternoon of listening to a radio station devoted to popular hits in the early 1980s, it feels like little more than audience pandering. Furthermore, the script deals with an idolatry of a certain type of masculinity and renders women as either emotionally unstable or cultishly dedicated to their husbands. While modern films like these might be criticized as being too ironic, there’s an earnestness in The Big Chill, a complete romanticization of nearly everything these people do–where problems are solved with one-liners, where husbands have the go-ahead to fuck other women–that is absolutely infuriating.

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