Good Will Hunting (1997)

5 Stars

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a janitor at MIT and has a gift for being able to decipher the most difficult of mathematics challenges. A lecturer at the University, Prof. Gerald Lambeau (Stellen SkarsgÄrd), notices Will's talent and tries to mould Will into the ideal pupil.

Will is forced to attend Lambeau's lectures and attend sessions with psychologist Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) as part of his reform having been caught fighting. Will pushes back against the system that abandoned him as a child, but Sean doesn't want to give up so easily.


Despite having never really paid much attention to either film, I used to get Good Will Hunting mixed up with Dead Poets Society. I think my ignorance can be forgiven though - both are highly rated on IMDb and both contain pupils under the unorthodox guidance of Robin Williams. Anyway, that's besides the point of this review.

When it comes to the end of his career, Robin Williams will often be remembered for his stints in comedy and his ability to form the most bizarre voices - all on display in Mrs. Doubtfire. It is easy to forget that he is so diverse that he has played Peter Pan, a 200-year-old robot and a cartoon genie.

So for him to appear as a caring psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting perhaps isn't that bizarre after all - out of all of his films, this is the one that earned him his only Academy Award. He does well to shunt aside his various famous roles to take on a far more serious and emotion-filled role.

But this isn't Williams' film. Penned by Matt Damon (who looked like the missing member of any generic 1990's boy band) and Ben Affleck (who looked, well, normal), Good Will Hunting is famous for the doubt that two young men could write the screenplay to such a film. On the other hand, the Academy had no doubt, jointly awarding the two of them the Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Rather than laying low they both took acting roles within the film. Damon became Will Hunting - a misunderstood janitor whose morals are definitely there albeit a bit skewed. Affleck took the relatively minor role of Will's friend Chuckie Sullivan. They were joined by Minnie Driver as Will's girlfriend Skylar - who went on to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the same time.

The film's success is that it doesn't victimise any of the protagonists. Will sees his unseen gift as a hindrance to a friendship that he values more than his own life, while Chuckie only ever wishes the best for his friend. Despite hardships in his life, Dr. Maguire is shown to have moved on rather than dwelling on the past. The only 'bad guy' of the film is Professor Lambeau.

There is emotion in bundles and the film never shies away from this. It just goes to prove that grown men can cry, and no matter how hard people may look on the face of it, there could be someone completely different and vulnerable underneath.


Review by on . Film Rating: 5/5