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Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.
This review was written by MovieGuy on June 17, 2018.
What a great movie by two of Hollywood's brightest up-and-comers (at the time). Prior to this movie, neither Matt Damon nor Ben Affleck had done much of anything in film. I suspect they were challenged by the age-old Catch 22 of becoming an actor in Hollywood: you can't get a decent role until you've shown what you can do...and you can't show what you can do until you've landed a decent role. So, I imagine that these two decided they needed to write a vehicle of their own that would allow them to show the world what they could do. I doubt if either one of them was looking to win an Oscar for "Best Original Screenplay", but I don't think it mattered which Oscar they won. Once this movie had cast its spell and Damon and Affleck were household names, they had accomplished what they had set out to do. They had been noticed, and since their acting was also pretty darn good in this film, better acting roles started coming their way. My hat is off to both of them because their plan worked and what a career they've both had so far. I doubt if either of them has many complaints about how their careers have evolved since "Good Will Hunting" was released.
Matt Damon does a terrific job portraying the brilliant, yet damaged "Will Hunting." Apparently, Damon and Affleck grew up near each other in the location that serves as the backdrop for this film: Cambridge, Massachusetts. It's not hard to believe, since both Damon and Affleck do a pretty good job pulling off the accents of South Boston. Not sure if they can relate to the deeply blue collar nature of their characters, but their performances seem to indicate at least a passing familiarity with their alter egos. They surely drew upon the experiences of their youth when writing this screenplay, although I doubt either one of them was any sort of "Will Hunting". As far as I can tell, that character is a purely fictional amalgamation of people and experiences from their past. Again, the fact that these two twenty-somethings were able to craft a screenplay of such depth is impressive. It's a very heart warming story that still gets me thinking when I watch the movie.
But, Damon and Affleck are not the only good performances in this movie. Robin Williams is brilliant as the Harvard-educated psychologist with a blue collar background. In fact, he won the Oscar for "Best Supporting Actor" for his role. Makes me miss him that much more when I watch it. Stellan Skarsgard turns in a terrific performance as the prick of a professor with a Fields Medal, "Professor Lambeau". Minnie Driver provides one of my favorite performances from her as Will's love interest "Skylar." And, I can't write a review for this movie without mentioning the entertaining performances of both Cole Hauser and Casey Affleck as the ever-bickering sidekicks of elder Affleck and Damon. It's funny to watch Casey play such a minor role, only to realize the writer/director/actor he will become some day.
Or course, I can't give all the credit to Damon and Affleck and Williams. Any good movie is nothing without a talented director to pull all the pieces into something coherent that tells a good story while entertaining the audience. And, Gus Vant Sant really shows what he's capable of in this warm-hearted indie film. Nice work, Gus. I wanna be you some day.
This really is a great movie and one of my favorites. There's a lot of profanity and some mature themes that would cause me to hesitate showing it to kids, but otherwise this is a movie that I can confidently recommend to just about anyone that doesn't mind a drama that takes two hours to unfold.
I give this movie 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.