A boy genius requires help from a therapist in order to overcome his personal challenges and realise his potential.Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) and his students are left baffled when a tricky formula set up as a challenge is solved and no one comes forward. It is later revealed that the person to solve the equation is the college janitor, Will Hunting (Matt Damon) – an unsung boy genius. When Will gets into trouble with the law, the professor intervenes and takes him under his wing in order to stop him going to prison. To remain a free man, Will must attend counselling sessions to address the issues stemming from his past. After a series of failed visits to various different psychologists, Gerald calls upon the help of an old friend, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), who he feels will be able to get through to Will. Together Will and Sean work through his problems and learn just what life still has to offer both of them.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen Good Will Hunting, but one thing I do know is that no matter how many times I see this film, it never loses its touch with me. As you can probably tell, it’s going to get a glowing review now.
There are two fantastic lead performances here, and neither are about to go unnoticed. Matt Damon gives what is still perhaps one of the best performances of his career here. He was brilliant as Will, providing us with a very realistic character. I loved how he wrapped up Will’s vulnerability in some kind of arrogance as it echoed what so often happens in real life. There was such an air of authenticity about him that I just have to give him full credit for.
And now we move onto Robin Williams who gives an absolute powerhouse performance here as Sean. He was a fantastic father figure to Will and deserved every bit of his Best Acting Oscar. It is definitely one of his best performances, if not the best. Of course, each time I see him in this, it is a stark reminder of the talent that we lost when Williams died back in 2014 as it shows us the true extent of what he was capable of as an actor. However, it is a fine legacy to leave behind.
There is something magical about Good Will Hunting that I can’t quite seem to put a finger on. I think all elements of the film combine to form something that will for a long time mean it is one of the greats. It certainly has a lot of plus points; the performances from more or less all of the main cast members, some beautifully memorable scenes and some wonderful undertones about friendship and other things. I’ve seen a few pieces of work from director Gus Van Sant and, as far as I’m aware, I’ve fully enjoyed all of them. This has to be his crowning glory so far though. As I said at the beginning, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this film, but that makes no difference to how I view it – a sign of a classic, I believe.
Overall I’ll say that if you haven’t seen Good Will Hunting yet, you should. It is a prime example of what can be achieved by solid writing and matching performances, and it will continue to remain so for years to come, I’m sure.
Keep an eye out for Talking Stars’ ‘Good Will Hunting’ podcast in the New Year – it will be the first instalment in our new ‘Film Club’ series starting in January.