On popular demand from Shiva, one of my good friends and an old mahabore faithful, here comes a review of one of my all time favorite movies Good Will Hunting. Now this is one movie which I can never manage to ignore whenever it plays either on Star Movies, HBO or any other movie channel on TV. In fact I remember at least 2-3 occasions where of my own accord, I have actually popped in the DVD and seen this movie end-to-end without any interruptions.
The story itself deals with Will Hunting (played by a relatively young and inexperienced Matt Damon) who is a janitor at MIT (yes, the original Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and well, for lack of a better term, is on a rampage of ruining his own life. The fact that he was an abused foster child in his younger days removes every iota of self confidence and optimism in the kid, and he uses every opportunity to put down himself both in front of his friends, and in front of the world at large.
However, the kid is gifted with a genius level intellect, amazing memory and an uncanny talent for mathematics. This is proven when Will solves a difficult graduate-level math problem from algebraic graph theory, during the course of cleaning up a classroom. This brings Will in contact with Prof Gerald Lambeau, a Fields Medalist. By the time the Prof tracks down the person who has solved the problem, Will lands himself in prison for beating up a local bully.
The good professor brings out Will on his personal supervision to study mathematics, under the condition that he sees a therapist. While the math part goes on decently enough, Will with his attitude issues, ends up pissing off the first five psychologists that the Prof has him visit. These sequences make for interesting viewing as Will ends up irritating them and ensuring that they don’t want to see him again in reasonably innovative ways. Ranging from incidents in their earlier lives to the books they read, Will ends up psycho-analyzing the shrinks themselves causing quite a flutter during the sessions.
Prof Lambeau finally ends up approaching an estranged old friend Sean Maguire (Robin Williams in an awesome role) who happens to have grown up in the same neighborhood as Will. Sean manages to break through Will’s tough exterior and ends up convincing him to date Skylar (Minnie Driver in a memorable role) a young woman Will meets at a bar.
However, things go horribly wrong between Will and Sean when Will as usual resists any attempts to try and civilize him and put him in a research assistant’s job. Whether Will Hunting finally achieves his potential, whether his relationship with Skylar takes off, what happens to Sean Maguire, these are a few answers which will make sense only when seen in the movie, rather than reading about them in this review.
One interesting trivia about this movie is the fact that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who plays a good friend of Will’s in this movie) actually won an Academy Award in 1998 for Best Original Screenplay. While I am quite sure that most of us know both Damon and Affleck as reasonably good actors, I am not sure how many of us actually knew that these guys were behind this brilliant movie.
What works for me in this movie is the fact that it purely deals with human emotions from a very down-to-earth perspective. Will’s anger, his absolute disrespect for anything good in life, his perennial pessimism are all justified by the incidents that he narrates of his childhood. Sean’s sober behavior, his dull dress sense, his perennial sense of sorrow are all justified by his wife’s struggle with cancer and the loss of his true love. All of these characters are who they are because of strong reasons and not just like that.
This is one movie which I would recommend to all the people who like either Matt Damon or Robin Williams as it gives them roles very different from the usual run-of-the-mill typecast roles that they usually get. The two of them bring refreshingly different aspects of their acting talents out in this movie.
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