When Will Hunting (Matt Damon) solves a math problem on the blackboard
of an MIT class, it propels him into a potentially life-changing situation
that he doesn't want. You see, Will isn't a student at MIT, he's a janitor.
He also happens to be a genius on the order of Einstein. By solving the
theorem, he is hunted down by Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgaard) who
wants to benefit from his gift.
Will Hunting (1997)
Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin
The problem is that Will has psychological scars from 20 years of abuse
and mistreatment in various foster homes. Rather than use his mental gifts,
he prefers the company of his friends (Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck), drinking
beer and getting into fights. One such fight lands him in jail. Professor
Lambeau manages to work a deal that will allow Will to avoid jail time
if he lets Lambeau develop his gift and he visits a therapist.
The mathematical part of this deal is a breeze for Will. He has no problem
solving equations and proving theories that take other professors a lifetime's
dedication. The therapy part is what doesn't go quite as planned. It seems
Lambeau has underestimated Will's attitude toward changing himself and
his outlook on life. Various therapists declare Will to be impossible
to work with, until Lambeau requests the aid of his former roommate, Sean
McGuire (Robin Williams), who has a background similar to Will's.
In their first meeting, Will and McGuire strike up the beginnings of
a bond that will cause each character to learn valuable lessons about
life and love. Considering that Will has just met a woman, played by Minnie
Driver, these lessons couldn't come at a better time.
Will Hunting has a lot of great performances and Ben Affleck and
Matt Damon's script propels the characters along at a good pace and provides
a lot of great dialogue. Damon's performance is outstanding, as are the
efforts of Robin Williams and Minnie Driver. All are deserving of the
multitude of awards and nominations they've received.
The only problem with Good
Will Hunting is the neat and tidy ending,
which seems to say that a few therapy sessions may just be what someone
with 20 years of abuse behind them needs to make everything okay. This
oversimplification of psychological and physical abuse isn't something
the movie dwells on, but it does weaken the movie's foundation a bit.
Overall, though, Good
Will Hunting is a fine example of a good drama
with great acting and a great script. Matt Damon is definately an actor
to reckon with and not just another pretty face. Anyone who complains
about Leonardo DiCaprio not getting an Oscar nomination for Titanic should
look at Damon's performance and rethink their opinion.
Smith, responsible for Ben Affleck's other big 1997 movie, Chasing
is one of the executive producers of Good Will Hunting. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)