A riff on the 1983 classic The Big Chill, this ensemble drama's reunion of old friends differs because Alex's suicide fails this time. It's also, of course, filtered through a very different cultural landscape, with characters born at about the time the earlier film was released. This is a strikingly warm exploration of friendship, with light comedy and very dark emotions along the way. And even if it sometimes feels a little sloppy about its big themes, it has a lot to say.
After Alex (Jason Ritter) attempts suicide, his best pal Ben (Nate Parker) calls the old gang and asks them to come to Upstate New York and offer some support. Ben brings his girlfriend Siri (Maggie Grace), who's also part of the group. But they're grappling with some big issues in their relationship, since he's a blocked writer and she has just had a job offer in Los Angeles. The cynical Josh (Max Greenfield) arrives at the same time as the charmer Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), and they can barely conceal the waves of loathing and lust between them. Finally, Isaac (Max Minghella) brings his younger girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy). As these people reconnect, the awkwardness is made even more intense by the question of how they can help Alex.
It's intriguing to see a movie made about 30-ish characters by 28-year-old Jesse Zwick, son of filmmaker Edward, who made the seminal TV series Thirtysomething. The film refreshingly avoids stereotypes, populating scenes with realistic people who are still hung up on the same issues they faced while in university, including quite a lot of soapy "he likes her but she likes him" melodrama. But as the weekend progresses, the thoughtful conversations lead to revelations and confessions, spurred on by some pot-smoking, game-playing, dancing and noisy sex. All of which gives the actors plenty to play with.
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