December 15th, 2019
Over the summer ––– June I think, though maybe July ––– I watched The Big Chill (1983) for the first time. I can't remember how I came across the film. I must have wanted something from the eighties and something mildly romantic and then happened upon the film as I was searching for movies from that decade and of that genre.
In The Big Chill seven friends from college reunite years later at the funeral of a mutual friend, then proceed to spend a week together –––– an extended stay ––– at a house that one of them owns in Beaufort, South Carolina. It's a stately place, fit of course, for a set of stately young and upwardly-mobile urban professionals. They spend less time reflecting on their college years and more time sorting through the current state of their lives ––– the marriages they're in or wanting to be in, as well the professions that they've left or are wanting to leave.
Over the summer I also began reading the screenplay for Broadcast News (1987) ––– William Hurt appears in both and serves as the link between the two films –––– and tonight I blocked out the time to watch it. Whereas The Big Chill takes place in a house in South Carolina, Broadcast News performs a similar, though much smaller dance (three friends and associates, rather than seven), in and around a newsroom based in Washington D.C. I chose the film because I wanted the same feeling again, the same calmness and cool in the midst one’s thirties to wash over me, and I found it.
These films will not leave you emotionally gripped and they're not suspenseful, but they take their time and do not hurry through the story, and further: there's something at work within them that I find compelling and interesting at this point in my life.
Most if not all of the the central characters in both films are in their thirties, an era in which one is, on balance, still young enough to look back on and feel and enjoy the energy and zest and vibrancy of his or her twenties; while also having developed a confidence and maturity to more effectively chart a more authentic and profound course forward for the years ahead: their forties and beyond.