Good Will Hunting: A Review
Written by Kiersten Conner-Sax | Posted by: Anonymous
To praise with faint damnation, the only things that annoyed me about Good Will Hunting were the occasional slips in Ben Afflecks South Boston accent. Even Minnie Driver couldnt find a means of irritating me. Friends told me it was a "feel good" movie, and the occasional television commercial inspired in me a dread of a possible Dead Poets Circle of Friends, or Chasing the Rainmaker, or something like that, though I suspected things were going to be all right when I saw director Gus Van Sants name scroll through the opening credits. Instead, the film, written by Affleck and star Matt Damon, presents something Id begun to assume lost: a coming-of-age story thats actually worth telling. In short, you wont find a single character wearing a goatee.
Will Hunting is an orphaned young genius, assigned by his parole officer to a janitorial job at MIT. After solving a difficult theorem posted on a hallway blackboard, he is discovered by mathematics professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard). Lambeau wants to "save" Will from his life of drinking and brawling with his working-class friends, and in the process connects him with therapist and old friend Sean McGuire (Robin Williams). The rest of the film recounts, as stated, Wills coming of age: will he take a job at the Cambridge think tank, or remain tied to Chuckie (Affleck) and Southie?
That the movie excites the viewers interest is a testament to the quality of both the script and Van Sants direction. Good Will Huntings fairly conventional, overdose-free storytelling is a departure from his drug-soaked early films (Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho), and from the brilliant complexity of the recent To Die For. The uniformly high quality of the performances must be a testament to him: Damon is believably cuddly and frightening at the same time; its delightful to watch him doing everything from taunting therapists with renditions of "Afternoon Delight" to smiling at his girlfriend. Skarsgard embodies perfectly a professor who truly believes it is his mission to deliver tomorrows Einstein to the world. Robin Williams, however, centers the film with his sublime, unsentimental performance as a therapist who chose love over academic genius; he touches genuine emotional chords from the first mention of his lost wifes name.
Damon and Affleck grew up together in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the film is replete with scenes of Harvard and MITand the alleys and row houses of South Boston. The script is full of orphans and dead wives and English heiresses and fart jokes, of all things, and its wonderful. The measure of its success can be measured by what it isnt: Will isnt saved by love, no breakthrough comes from recitations of abuse, and there arent any tear-filled reunions or planes taking off at the endjust a well-earned conclusion that feels both true and satisfying.