Every once in a while you come across a movie so good that you do not wish for it to end and yet at the same time crave for the story to complete a full circle. Good Will Hunting is one such movie. It presents to you a simple story of an ordinary young boy with an extraordinary talent. A boy born with a gift that even the best of people acquire after years of relentless hard work decides to let it all go because he is too scared of giving up what he has today. Good Will Hunting with a very beautifully crafted story line, stellar performances by the entire cast and heart touching dialogues presents to you the journey of a teenager into the world of Mathematics.
Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) is a twenty-year-old janitor working in MIT who has an affinity towards mathematics. When Prof. Gerald Lambeau writes a difficult mathematics problem on the board for his graduate students, none of them are able to solve it. However, Prof. finds the solution and in order to find out the person behind he writes another difficult problem which is again solved by Will. When Prof. spots him writing the solution, Will flees the scene. He hangs out in the neighborhood of South Boston with his friends Chuckie (played by Ben Affleck), Billy and Morgan. Will meets Skylar (played by Minnie Driver) in the bar and they are attracted to each other. However, next day Will engages in a fight and is arrested. He is forgiven jail time on a condition that he studies mathematics under the supervision and guidance of Prof. Lambeau and attends therapy sessions. After many therapists failing to the tricks and tantrums of Will, Lambeau is left with the only option to rope in his college roommate Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) who is now a psychology professor in a Community College. The interactions between Sean and Will, how he helps him accept his past, come out of his shell and realize that his past was not his fault makes the rest of the movie.
The storyline shifts back and forth focusing on the dynamics between Will, Sean, Lambeau, Skylar and Chuckie. The relationships presented in each of the frame provide the movie its overall feel. Here are a few factors that made the movie a gem which has outlived the passage of time and continues to be relevant even today, after twenty three years from its initial release in 1997.
- The Story Line
A good story is something that binds a movie together. You know a story is good when it does deliver the intended message without losing the essence of emotions conveyed. Good Will Hunting is one such story. It does not carry many twists or turns and you might also not find any big surprise elements present in the narrative. Yet, its beauty lies in subtlety and crisp. Every plot is well carried to its intended closure and the characters are equally given a full arc of development which in turn enhances richness of the story line even more. There are no loose plot points and there is absolute clarity about the narrative being presented. Plots don’t get entangled and continuity is ensured along its entire course. Story line never loses a grip of the audience and you will not find yourself drifting away from the feel of the movie at any point.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the movie.
- The Star Cast
When the star cast includes Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgard and other known names, it is very normal to expect a good acting performance in the movie. Every actor seemed to ease into their respective characters and bring out the character personality very effectively. The acting brilliance of entire star cast is what makes the movie a pleasurable experience. They make you cry, laugh, fall in love and battle the inner turmoil along with the characters in the movie.
- Inter-personal Dynamics and Character Development
Every character in the movie is written very uniquely with a different personality. Where on one hand Will is shown to be a genius and master mind, he is also a soft and innocent kid inside. He fears the human emotions of love and attachment due to his rough past. On the other hand is Skylar, who is a hopeful young girl, believes in love and is strong enough to hold Will’s hand despite their differences.
There is Prof. Lambeau who is a headstrong character, very clear of his goals and wishes for Will to use his talent for transforming his life. Prof. Sean on the contrary is more concerned of Will’s mental well being. His focus is more on the internal peace and happiness in one’s life over the glitter of material success. Both these characters have the same objective being Will’s well being, however, have different approaches.
The remarkable part of the movie is the ease with which all these characters interact with each other. Their inter-personal dynamics play a crucial role in each character’s development. The conversations, arguments, discussions and even the silence between them convey many emotions and feelings. No character in the movie can be seen independent of the others. Their individual stories are knit together so beautifully that each character showcases a strong growth over the course of the movie. They help each other heal, grow and find their purpose in life. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon represent the childhood friendship filled with tenderness and care hidden behind the rugged exterior whereas Sean and Lambeau aptly showcase the subtle tension in their relation which they try hard to hide using mask of courtesy and politeness. All the emotions are amazingly conveyed through the interactions between different characters.
- Soothing Musical Score
If you are anything like me, you’ll agree that good music enhances the beauty of the movie and makes it a soothing and pleasurable experience. The correct music score complimenting the theme of the movie enables a more effective delivery of the message and conveys emotions inside the story more strongly.
The musical score for Good Will Hunting was composed by Danny Elfman. Many songs in the movie are written and recorded by singer-songwriter Elliot Smith. Song “Miss Misery” was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song and the musical score was nominated for Oscar as well.
- Closer to Real Life
Simplicity of the movie and rawness of characters is what makes the movie closer to real life. Nothing in the movie is painted over the top to make it pleasant or agreeable. It appeals to ordinary people like us because we can relate to the characters and their lives. The backdrop of the movie is simple yet elegant. There is no chaos or commotion in the background setting. Very few locations are used to shoot the movie and thus the focus remains on the story rather than the lavishness of the locations. It enables us to relate to the overall movie and it thus becomes easier to soak in the feelings being conveyed being relatable and believable.
- Beautiful Dialogues
As said earlier, the movie has a very strong writing and that is not applicable only to the story. Dialogues of the movie are also very powerful and motivating. The sessions that Will has with Sean where they discuss life, loss and pain are very endearing. Each dialogue carries a strong message that may either be soothing or thought provoking. However, each dialogue and each message prove to be quite enlightening and empowering. It showcases writing brilliance as well as beautiful delivery. Sean’s iconic dialogue “It’s not your fault”, is a tear jerker but also an affirmation during the painful times. These dialogues will stay with you long after the movie has ended.
All said and done, it will be logical to conclude that Good Will Hunting is genuinely a true master piece and the type of cinema that delivers a message along with entertainment. The power of film making is rightly used to address issues that are relevant and closer to our personal lives as well. Thus, Good Will Hunting will always end up being a soothing experience where every time you will find something new to take back from the movie. It is a timeless piece of art which will remain relevant for all the coming generations as well
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Produced By: Lawrence Bender
Written By: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon