Classic of the Week: Ordinary People (1980)

Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film directed by Robert Redford, in his directorial debut. It his based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Judith Guest. It stars Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton. The story follows the dissolve of an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, after the accidental death of one of their two sons and the attempted suicide of the other.

Judging by the title of this film, it sounds like nothing more than just the story of an average American upper class family, but it’s so much more. It deals with love, tragedy, depression, suicide and marital issues. It is very slow for a good portion of the film, but some scenes are quite intense, especially when it shows how Jordan died and when Conrad is attempting suicide. This is a movie that many families, even today can relate to. So many families go through these things.

This film isn’t really heartwarming much at all, in fact, it is mostly heartbreaking. It is depressing, but truly moving and inspirational. It shows how a family copes with tragedy, how death has an impact on people and how suicide is never the answer. It also deals with marital problems, realizing that sometimes a person falls out f love with their spouse and that separation may the key for two people to be truly happy again. This movie also deals with mental illness, not just someone wanting to kill themselves, because of guilt, but also depression, anger issues, anxiety and insomnia.

This is a film that not just psychiatrists should watch, but anyone who has gone through any like the family portrayed in this story. At times this movie is very slow, almost boring, but it is still very good. All the main stars do equally outstanding in their roles, making it seem like their characters are real and you’re watching a biopic , rather than a fictional movie. So well done, even if some parts are very slow, it does get to the point of making you think of how you’d feel in their situation. Robert Redford did great on this one. 18 & up 4/5

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

The Big Chill is a 1983 American drama and comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilley and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Despite coming together for a funeral, the friends still manage to share, laughter, memories, tears, music, love, friendship, food and drinks, anger, happiness and sadness. They cook, they eat, drink, dance and still have a good time. Maybe they should be mourning more the loss of their friend who was like a brother to them in college. A suicide is not something to celebrate, but maybe they are celebrating the good things about Alex.

All the acting by every lead star is equally outstanding. Every single character is unique in their own ways, making this movie better with every viewing. The fantastic soundtrack features R&B, soul, pop and rock from the 1960s and 70s . This film is equal parts sad, dramatic, funny and moving. You want friends like these.

This film is about friendship, love, death, music, emotions and life. One character is recently divorced, another has never been married, but wants a baby, another talks about how much he hates his job, despite its high pay. Despite it being 15 years after their college graduation, they group had still kept in touch. A couple of characters fall in love. One female character asks her husband to have sex with the female character that wants a baby, because she doesn’t think she’ll ever get married. He does it. There is lots of drinking, conversation, a few scenes of fighting, some making out, some sex, but lots of music.

This film teaches that family and friends are important, suicide is a serious issue, and music and coming together can heal. This movie is as striking as it is comedic, without being over the top. Wonderful throughout. 18+ 4.5/5