US, 2014, 99 minutes, Colour.
Nate Parker, Jason Ritter, Maggie Grace, Max Greenfield, Aubrey Plaza, Max Minghella, Jane Levy.
Directed by Jesse Zwick.
At one stage of this film, a character reflecting on the reunion of the group remarks that it is very much like an 80s film. Film buffs will immediately recognise the connection with The Big Chill, where a group of friends gather after the suicide of their friend. In this film it is an attempted suicide.
The film was written and directed by Jesse Zwick, son of the prominent writer and director, Edward Zwick (About Last Night, The Last Samurai, Courage under Fire).
Jason Ritter is the young man who attempts suicide at the beginning but calls the hospital. A number of his friends gather together for a weekend at a country house, wary about how to treat the would-be suicide, some tiptoeing (Aubrey Plaza as an anxious young woman), some very direct (Max Greenfield full of sardonic and direct comments). The couple had been friends for many years, a writer, Ben (Nate Parker) who suffers from writer’s block and has been ignoring the phone calls from his friend, along with his partner, Siri (Maggie Grace) who thinks she might be present pregnant, has a job offer in LA, the couple experiencing some tensions. The other friend is something of a yuppie, Isaac (Max Minghella) who brings along his new young girlfriend (Jane Levy), the others thinking this quite inappropriate.
There are a lot of discussions, tensions, clashes, game-playing, exposés and truths being told. The audience might find it a bit difficult to identify with the characters but most of them are presented interestingly enough so that audiences will be wondering about how they will resolve the difficulties and how the would-be suicide will survive.
1. A film about 20 somethings, 21st century style? Crisis, reunion, truth-telling, resolution?
2. The city, country, the country house, the countryside? Musical score?
3. The focus on Alex, the introduction, getting into the bath, his suit, his texting about being a grave man, the suicide attempt?
4. The group, the introductions? Ben, at work, the editor, as a writer, his ignoring Alex’s phone calls? His relationship with Siri, partners? Sarah, her anxiety? Josh, writing his thesis, his caustic comments? Isaac, up-and-coming, his work, relationship with Kate, the decision to bring her? Alex, recovered, his arrival?
5. The various reactions to Alex, how to treat him, his response, everybody watching him, being careful, except for Josh and his directness?
6. The weekend, the rooms, Sarah cooking, the meals, talk, playing games?
7. Truths and exposé, emotions, their effect?
8. Ben and Siri, the past, the rooms at College, being together? Ben, African- American, quiet, the writer, his block? Siri, pleasant, wondering whether she was pregnant or not, her wanting to go to LA, Ben’s hesitations, Sarah telling Alex about the writer’s block? Discovery she was not pregnant, caught with Alex, Ben upset, driving away, the crash? His confession about not answering Alex’s calls? Alex discovering him writing, the story, inviting him to stay? The reunion with Siri?
9. Josh, sardonic, the past, wanting to tell the truth, direct, literary and cultural references, intelligent, too smart? With Sarah, the past sexual relationship, continuing? Wondering about his thesis and its value? His jealousy of Ben? Drinking, the pot, the truth game, the possibility of change?
10. Sarah, anxious, talking, tiptoeing around Alex, the relationship with Josh, clashes, discussions, the sex? Shopping with Kate? Cooking, the meal? Her dream of the restaurant, her parents’ disapproval, talking with Isaac, the offer of the loan, the decision?
11. Isaac, success, Josh’s comment on his shoes, his decision to bring Kate, the others think it was inappropriate? The past with Sarah, her rebuff in him? Kate, her age, feeling out of place, her work on the phones with suicide attempts, the pot, the drinking, the phone call and her help? Helping Alex to get a job? Isaac and the loan for Sarah?
12. Alex, his explanations, his self-image, Ben, communication?
13. The pot and its loosening the group up? Sarah inventing the game, writing down comments – leading to exposure and the truth?
14. The reference to the 1980s film, this film paralleling The Big Chill, the situation, some of the characters, their appearances?