Saturday, August 20, 2011

Glenn Close in The Big Chill

Glenn Close received her second Oscar nomination for her performance as Sarah Cooper in the Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill. I don't think I'm the right age to fully understand the appeal of The Big Chill. It seems to be one of those films that is represents an entire generation of people, in this case those who were the same age as the characters in this film. It's a character driven ensemble film that follows a group of college friends who reunite after the suicide of one of their close friends. The cast consists of plenty of great actors/actresses, including Tom Berenger Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, and Jeff Goldblum. Close plays Sarah, who is married to Harold (Kline), and at one point had an affair with the now-deceased friend Alex. Her and Harold are almost the heart of the group, and everyone stays at their house for the weekend after the funeral.

Sarah is the emotional center of the film as the one who clearly loved Alex the most, and she serves as a catalyst for a lot of the discussions that go on in the film about him. Glenn gets ample opportunity for showy moments of crying alone, silent devastation, and silent knowing looks. I admire a lot about this performance, and in fact Glenn does get a lot right here. She takes the cliched character of the seemingly loving, supporting wife who has deeply hidden feelings of guilt and passion for another and embraces it and makes Sarah seem like a real, relatable person. Not for a second does she fall into the traps many other actresses have fallen for, and instead realized that it is more powerful to let the us realize the emotions that she is feeling and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I have to be honest--it took me awhile to place all the puzzle pieces together concerning her relationship with Alex.

While I admire all of those understated aspects of Glenn Close's performance that is also the main issue I have with the performance, because I just don't feel like The Big Chill was meant to have any particular cast member stand out more than another. It's a film about a group of friends and the bonds and connections they have from their youth, and the journey they take together over the course of the film. One of the main emphases in the movie is friendship and the importance of it even when you become adults. I think the cast realized this was not about any one individual performance, and instead worked together to create a powerful ensemble that works well together.

So, with all that being said, I have to say that Glenn gave a perfect performance to suit her film--but not one that alone is particularly special or outstanding. She made every single cliched and terrible plot twist work to her advantage (even the ridiculous one involving Mary Kay Place), and maintained a serene and calm style throughout the film. This was definitely one of the toughest performances to rate because on one hand she is perfect for The Big Chill, but on the other she doesn't really compare to the other four nominated ladies on her own. So this may be hard for some to understand considering the fair amount of praise in this review, but she's getting a strong 3/5 from me.


mrripley said...

I like close but felt that the following were much better in 83

kelly mcgillis in reuben reuben
eilenn atkins in the dresser
michelle pfeiffer in scarface

plus cher and hunt make my 5 supp actress 83 line up,who would you have in elad!!!

dinasztie said...

I really liked her but I love great Glenn in everything. :D

Derek Bowman said...

@mrripley: I haven't seen nearly enough 1983 movies (none of those you mention, not even Scarface), but at this point I'd just remove Glenn and include Sigourney Weaver for TYOLD.

@dinasztie: I don't quite 'get' the universal love for Glenn quite yet. I like her and think she is a fine actress, but I've yet to be wowed by her. =/

Cole said...

I know Glenn has not a lot of things to do, but I'm a very big fan of the movie! I discovered it recently, and it was a pure joy!