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Good Will Hunting

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Good Will Hunting

Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams
Director: Gus Van Sant
Rated: R
RunTime: 126 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Drama, Romance

Review by Walter Frith
4 stars out of 4

Written by Matt Damon and his best friend Ben Affleck, who also appears in the film as Damon's best friend, 'Good Will Hunting' was created on paper before the two of them were struggling to break into show business, growing up in South Boston and setting their own goals. For Damon, it's a smart move, much in the same approach that Billy Bob Thornton took in 1996 as he wrote the screenplay to 'Sling Blade', and adapted it for the big screen as an independent film and Thornton had the starring role.

Beginning at MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology), 'Good Will Hunting' begins with a math professor (Stellan Skarsgard), who gives a complex math problem to his class and offers an incentive to the first one that can solve it. It took the professor two and a half years to solve it so what a challenge for his students! He writes the problem on the blackboard outside the classroom and later a janitor in the building (Matt Damon) solves the problem almost without thinking about it. This really isn't work for him but being a janitor is and he resists attempts at developing his gift of mathematical brain power.

Damon later gets arrested for assault and the judge agrees to release him to the care of the professor who arranges for several court ordered tasks to be performed as part of an agreement to keep Damon out of jail and he has Damon introduced to a therapist, (Robin Williams) and Damon meets his match in this clever and eager elder who wants to help Damon find his true inner self.

There are many observations one can make after viewing 'Good Will Hunting'. The most acute observation that will probably be made by most is that it tells the story of an ordinary young man with extraordinary abilities. Although most of us can't identify with his genius for solving mathematical problems, we can identify with the relationship he has with his friends, his elders and the lady in his life (Minnie Driver). This is the most uplifting film I've seen since 1989's 'My Left Foot' and 'Good Will Hunting' leaps off the pages of its script and unfolds like a play with a simple look, a complex set of characters and a desire to do what films of this type should always do, educate and enlighten. It also has brilliantly coherent dialogue and a story of many personal bondings that will make movie audiences feel better about themselves when they leave the theatre.

The performances all around are nothing short of miraculous guided by the surprisingly inspired direction of Gus Van Sant ('My Own Private Idaho', 'Drugstore Cowboy', 'To Die For') who makes the entire film bright with flashes of real life characters brought to the point of not only becoming better people by the end of the film but Van Sant was able to keep everyone on their mark by following his direction exactly. This is evident by the completely humourless performance by Robin Williams who doesn't inject one funny moment in his usual witty and manic style of comedy and its the best film role Robin Williams has ever had. Even in two of his three Oscar nominated roles, 'Dead Poet Society' and 'The Fisher King', Williams still injected moments of unexpected humour but there is none contained in 'Good Will Hunting' and it is a refreshing breath of air as Williams finally begins to explore his true potential.

'Good Will Hunting' has a ring of Oscar potential to it but more importantly than that, it really can provide lessons in helping people sort out their lives with only one viewing.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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