He’s been rescued from WWII, he’s been rescued from space, he’s been rescued from Mars, but of all the times Hollywood had to rescue Matt Damon, none of them were more genuine than him getting rescued from himself. Matt Damon’s career never peaked like this again, especially when playing Jason Bourne, and he may never reach this height of creative perfection again. It has been twenty-two years since Good Will Hunting became an instant classic, and it deserves to be called one of the few motion pictures that can naturally make every man cry at the end. Any of its shortcomings are fully utilized to its advantage, since it possesses a humble understanding of why it exists: to tell the complete truth about who people really are and why.
Now, this atypical young White man on a Harvard campus, Will Hunting, possesses brains fit for the big world of business, except with a fatal flaw: trauma. That trauma causes too much self-fear to go anywhere, creating a non-success story of someone who’s confused about his future identity, and thus resorts to unlawfulness to guarantee everybody else lives worse than himself. The conflict always focuses squarely on him to suggest a 24/7 mental health session between Will and his therapist, Sean, as their foul words shouted match the intentionally awry way the actors are framed in the screen. The Oscar-winning script Matt Damon and Ben Affleck co-wrote understands that anyone either in college or financially supporting another in college can do more than originally assumed.
It would seem easy to conclude at first that Sean copes well with past difficulties, but upon the information drop of him being a widower, his desperation falls on the same plane of any prisoner. But Sean is still there to help Will think evenly and does a far better job at it than Chuckie, whose friendship with Mr. Hunting switches often from being medicinal to being toxic. Also, a UK Harvard student, Skylar, fears about her own academic fate alongside her dysfunctional boyfriend’s future. It’s a tremendous detail this screenplay features—all these professions are written against their stereotypes to wipe away fakery; these characters likewise behave the way Will remembers them, almost like he made statues out of them to emphasize their most prominent features.
The direction by Gus Van Sant harks to America’s mindset throughout the mid-late 90’s… a victorious mindset desiring dominance over other, only to realize that the true failure is in oneself. American flags seen in the background inform when something is an important healing landmark for Will’s place in this country that enforces success. But is that success the same for everyone around him? It certainly becomes a challenge to look past the constant fidgeting their hands all do, but it’s intentionally there to challenge. With these details in the peripheral vision, focus naturally goes on hearing the multiple character stories as if you were the therapist.
Too many tremendous moments are here to highlight, ironically, none of them big or flashy moments for the big screen, just sitting/standing and talking moments for home video. So many fake movies out there, especially in the time this was made, bloat themselves with special effects in an attempt to be memorable, which is why it’s so important to celebrate when such poetic testimonies to the value of a life such as this one gets celebrated long-term. Although most of the technical elements could have used improvement—based on the bland editing, sound design, and cinematography, this clearly came from twenty-two years ago, but it doesn’t matter, that complaint can hardly tarnish the experience.
By the end, you find satisfaction through love, rather than angst, by learning to love the little personal irks that leave such a tremendous impression. Sean came to love how his wife farted in her sleep, much like how true love can bring you joy in the way your partner snores or says “thank you” more times than necessary. Of the scenes here that lead from a display of anger to a celebration of love, there’s Will outsmarting a d-bag in the bar, there’s Sean in the park explaining what it means to love somebody, there’s Mr. Hunting getting near-abusive toward Skylar, and the final cherry on top: there’s the repeating of the phrase, “It’s not your fault.”
The relationship between Will and Skylar is so core to what it means to love somebody more than you love yourself, especially when across nations or past experiences, so observing how their romance limps onward should lead to healthier marriages and lower divorce rates. Even better, there’s an unfathomable level of humility from the cast and crew that means Good Will Hunting ought to be a mandatory watch for those over eighteen. If that happened, you would be overhearing “I’m sorry” an awful lot more while walking down the street.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Good Will Hunting. Miramax. Web. <https://www.miramax.com/movie/good-will-hunting/>.
@HOLLYWOOD. “Ben Affleck and Matt Damon React To Robin Williams Death.” Digital image. YouTube. 13 Aug 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeUP4dX22GM>.