Thursday, June 20, 2024

Review: “Chantilly Bridge,” a Female “Big Chill” Meets “Boyhood,” A Sensitive Portrait of the Passing of Time with Ally Sheedy, Lindsay Crouse, Jill Eikenberry

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If “The Golden Girls” weren’t a sitcom, or if “The Big Chill” had an all-female cast, they might look like Linda Yellen’s new movie “Chantilly Bridge,” a bringing together of old friends for a reunion.

A thirty-year jump from Yellen’s movie “Chantilly Lace,” “Bridge” features the same actresses, all with big careers: JoBeth Williams, Jill Eikenberry, Lindsay Crouse, Helen Slater, Talia Shire, Patricia Richardson and Ally Sheedy. We haven’t seen them in a long time because in film life as in real life, older women are simply not seen. To the point, their lives matter.

“Chantilly Bridge” opens with a quote about the function of bridges to connect the living with those departed. The characters come together to hug, mourn, remember, console, and deal with the matters that death brings—disposal of ashes, dispensing of “things,” discussion of lives lived, the demands of friendship, and of aging. There’s hardly a guy in the whole film.

A coup: flashbacks to the women thirty years before as vibrant 40-year-olds, especially resonant because we’ve known and loved their work so well. Director Linda Yellen — a seasoned Hollywood veteran whose work dates back to the stunning 1980 TV film “Playing for Time” with Vanessa Redgrave –and “Jacobo Timmerman: Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number” — said she waited until she could secure the rights to the earlier film from Showtime. Using the footage is an artistic achievement: “Chantilly Bridge” is a sensitive portrait of what time takes away and what time gives.

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