Good Will Hunting
“Well, I got her number. How you like them apples?”
If you were part of the Academy back in 1997, would you have chosen this indie film over the gargantuan Titanic? If it were up to me, I would have to give the top prize to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s debut film, even though I absolutely love James Cameron’s box-office hit.
The story centers around Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a gifted MIT janitor who can solve complex theorems that not even the mathematics professors can solve. Will hangs around his neighborhood and childhood buddies (Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck) and get drunk in bars. Honestly, doesn’t seem like a bad gig.
The story introduces a love interest in the form of Minnie Driver playing Skylar, a Harvard undergrad. The scene where Will and the gang are at the Harvard bar and they meet an uppity, pony-tailed Harvard grad contains one of the best monologues put to film. If you don’t remember, look it up. Damon’s writing and acting is envious.
Will was an orphan, so he never had any real guidance in his life. He eventually gets in a fight with a kid he knew from kindergarten and gets jail time, until Professor Lambeau (Skarsgard) makes him a deal: study math with me, no jail time, but have to meet with a therapist. Who the hell wants to talk to a shrink? Guess it beats sitting in a jail cell, though.
The therapist Will meets with is Sean MacGuire (Rest in peace, Robin Williams). This is by far Williams’s best performance and he shows it to us during his monologue with Will on the bench in the Boston Public Garden (I actually got to sit on this bench after Williams passed). You know, this monologue might be better than Damon’s as mentioned before. Both of them are equally as moving, but Williams’ might have to edge out Damon’s here. It’s very unusual not to see Williams being a goofball like in his other films (Ms. Doubtfire, Hook, Aladdin). This just shows how well-rounded of an actor he was. Williams and Damon’s chemistry is spot on, specificially when they are in the counseling sessions together. This is where we get to know our characters: Sean lost his wife to cancer and won’t remarry (the part where he talks about his wife farting in her sleep was improv) and Will has attachment issues, based on his poor childhood. Here is where Skylar comes in.
Will begins to see Skylar regularly and she meets Will’s friends and all that. When she asks him to go to California with her (she’s going to Stanford for grad school), he is extremely against this, since he’s never really left Boston before. They get into an argument and Will admits that he doesn’t love her (when in reality he really does, he’s just scared of attachment), so he bolts and Skylar leaves. Poor Will.
Will also does heavy math problems with Lambeau and this is where the main theme arises: Don’t pass up any opportunities to progress in life… realize your potential. Yeah, Will could have had a good and comfortable life in Boston with his buddies, but he wouldn’t be fulfilling his potential. Towards the end of the film while Will and Chuckie (Affleck) are doing construction, Chuckie says:
“But you know what the best part of my day is? For about 10 seconds from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, because I think, maybe I’ll get up there and knock on your door and you won’t be there. No goodbye, No nothing. You just left.”
Chuckie knows what potential Will has and he wants him to just leave. In the nicest way possible, of course. There’s no point in staying stagnant. While it might come off as rude, there’s a lot of truth to it. And it doesn’t just apply to Will; it applies to the audience as well.
The film of course ends happily (supposedly) with Will leaving to drive out to California to be with Skylar and live his own life. One of the last scenes has Chuckie walking up to Will’s door and seeing that he’s not home. You can just feel the relief that Chuckie has… Will actually listened.
I could write many more words on this film, but I unfortunately have loads of college homework to do, so I will end it here.
Harvard bar scene or the bench scene.
“It’s not your fault.” — Sean
“Son of a bitch.. He stole my line.” — Sean
“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” — Sean
Also, Damon and Affleck won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Williams won for Best Supporting Actor.