138 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film crafting
There were few films in 1997 that enjoyed more publicity than Good Will Hunting. Most of the hype centered on the two tyro actors who penned the screenplay. It seems that they had been friends for years and in between college obligations, drinking and socialising, they had been toying with a script on the side. What started out as a rather average comedy, soon evolved...
Published on May 7, 2000 by Anthony Hinde
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Einstein, Shakespeare--and Who???
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is an MIT janitor and mathematical genius with a major attachment and abuse reactive disorders (though the film doesn't identify the latter). After solving an "impossible" math problem Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) chalked on the board outside his classroom, the goodly pedant attends Hunting's latest arraignment for fighting, and...
Published on July 25, 2008 by Alyssa A. Lappen
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138 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film crafting,
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The true miracle is not that two actors, unknown for writing, could get a script accepted in Hollywood but that the script was so good that it put every other effort for the year in the shade. In my opinion, the motion picture academy was correct in awarding the Oscar for best screenplay to Good Will Hunting. Everything about the script suggested writers with a profound understanding of the human condition; even now I half suspect there was an element of that old saying about an infinite number of monkeys on typewriters.
For those interested in this Cinderella story within a movie, you should listen to the director's track on the DVD. It offers a unique insight into the background of the writing and filming of Good Will Hunting. It becomes clear from Ben and Matt's reminiscences that they had a ball during every part of the process. Not only that, they took advantage of their opportunity, to offer support roles to friends and family; a situation that rarely occurs outside of independent film. Surprisingly, one of the best support performances was produced by Casey Affleck, who is Ben's cousin, (I think).
The script took a bit of a risk by making the main character a super-genius. Not only is it difficult to portray a person with such talents but it is nearly impossible to do so while making him likeable. After all, the tall poppy syndrome is strongest when it comes to intellect. We can all aspire to wealth and with plastic surgery, even beauty is not unattainable but the brains you are born with is the most you're ever going to have. However, Matt Damon proved me wrong on both counts.
Will Hunting was undeniably bright. The scene in the Harvard bar were he takes on an educational supremacist is worth watching again and again just for the superb timing that was employed. Will also manages to win our sympathy despite his I.Q. Not so much because he acts like "one of the boys" but because we discover early on that for every blessing he received in the brain department, he was given a matching curse in his life. An orphan who was raised by a series of abusing foster parents is unlikely to have much room left for pride.
The catalyst which helps Will break out of his life is Gerald Lambeau, (Stellan Skarsgård). He is an award winning mathematician and professor at MIT where Will works as a janitor. Their paths cross when Will off-handedly solves a difficult maths problem which Lambeau had set for his post graduate class. But whilst there relationship is important, it is little more than a subplot; a segue toward Will's eventual meeting with Sean Maguire, a psychiatrist played by Robin Williams.
Sean is invited by Lambeau to work with Will. The two are old friends but even so, Sean was only approached after four other therapists had been run off by Will's destructive insights and bitter insults. Sean is a bird of a different feather however. He shares a common background with Will, and if anything, he has had more pain in his life than Will may ever see. In a strange way, Sean becomes Will's mother to Lambeau's role as ambitious father.
The film is rich with detail and is a wonderful medium for the support actors. Ben Affleck's role as Will's best friend is not as visible as Matt Damon's but he carries it off with just the right amount of fatalism and aggression. Will's Lady friend Skylar, is also worth special mention. Minnie Driver takes a seemingly token "love interest" role and breaths real depth into it. Without her efforts, Will's final choice would not have rung true and might have marred the whole film.
Good Will Hunting is a tribute to the dreams of American youth. Both because two young men managed to reach the pinnacle of their craft on their first outing but more importantly, because it deals with one young man's struggle to overcome his troublesome past while reaching out to grasp life, love and happiness. It's touching, entertaining and at the same time inspirational.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film that rooted itself in my soul and has never left,
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (DVD)Every now and then, a movie comes along that absolutely blows your world apart. It gives you a perspective on life that you never had before. It weasels its way into your psyche, unbeknownst to you, and takes root...becoming a major part of your inner workings. It's like Inception! When I first saw Good Will Hunting (1997) in 1998 when it came out, I had no idea that 13 years later this little indie film written by two wet-behind-the-ear kids from "Bahh-ston" would be one of my favorite films of all time. I mean...these two guys, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, are my contemporaries and I was 24 when this movie touched my heart and soul. That's pretty incredible writing from two young guys in their 20s, which won them both Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. Good Will Hunting is firmly planted in my Top 25 films of all time. And I doubt it will ever leave. Especially because the film is as fresh and critical today as it ever was. Repeatedly, over and over, this movie gets to me like so few do.
It's a perfect film (5 out of 5 stars) about the inherent flaws and failures that go hand-in-hand with life's greatest successes and achievements. The human condition, especially the condition of being a man, is flopped onto the operating table in Good Will Hunting and surgically dissected into all the psychological bits and quirks that somehow magically come together to create each of our lives. The emotional and intellectual depth present in the script, the acting, the dialogue, and all the details of this film, belies its book cover. If by some odd chance you haven't yet gone on this journey with Will Hunting, then by all means, get into this film now and for many years to come.
I watched Good Will Hunting for the umpteenth time tonight, but for the first time in over a year and the first time in HD. Having seen the film in the theater, on VHS, on DVD, and on TV, I know it like the back of my hand. And yet in HD, there were details that were brought to my attention like never before. Textures in the actors faces, colors that were brighter than they've ever been, locations that popped out, and dialog that reminds us all why we enjoyed The Social Network (2010) so much this past year. Director Gus Van Sant has never been better in his cinematic craftsmanship, then with his work on Good Will Hunting. He brings his artistic flare and unique storytelling techniques to a more mainstream presentation than his typical indie fare. It's films like this that make someone's career, or bring it back to life. And it did that for all the major players here. It brought the incredible filmmaking talents of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to the attention of Hollywood, both for acting and writing. It brought Gus Van Sant into the light of mainstream Hollywood directing. It really introduced us to Stellan Skarsgård, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck, and Cole Hauser, all of whom are well known actors now, who got there talents showcased in this film. And it finally gave Robin Williams his much deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, after being nominated for his incredible work in Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and Dead Poets Society (1989).
It's hard for me to write about Good Will Hunting because its the kind of complex, intelligent, yet very emotional story that is really best told through film, not writing. I love reading good prose like anyone, but film has a way of bringing that prose to life through its visuals, emotions, and music that our brains just don't create for us in our imaginations quite so viscerally. That being said, I'll do the best I can here! Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a mathematical genius in the form of a young man who was an abused orphan. Hunting has struggled all of his life, moving from foster home to foster home, job to job, and brawl to brawl. But living in South Boston, he's made some extremely close friends...brothers really...played ironically and fortuitously by real life brothers Ben & Casey Affleck and Cole Hauser. It absolutely helps sell the realism of the relationship between these actors that 3 out of 4 of them grew up in Boston together in real life.
After Will gets into another fight to defend his tough 'Southie" reputation, he gets arrested and put in jail. And this time he can't intellectualize his way out of it. But before being arrested, he catches the attention of a math professor at Harvard, played brilliantly by Stellan Skarsgård. Professor Gerald Lambeau challenges his students to solve a complex math problem that he puts up on a chalkboard. Working as a Janitor at Harvard, Will puts the solution to the math problem on the chalkboard one night while cleaning, and eventually gets discovered by Lambeau, who convinces the Judge to let Will out of jail under his guidance and care. But in return, Will has to attend weekly therapy sessions to address his issues with violence and crime. After going through a string of different types of therapists, Lambeau takes Will to his old college roommate Sean Maguire who happens to be a psychologist and community college instructor from Southie, just like Will. Robin Williams plays Maguire with absolute brilliance, creating a character that challenges, helps and befriends Will. The rest of the movie follows this journey through Will's therapy sessions, his new love relationship with Minnie Driver's "Skylar", his weekly "hang outs" with his best friends, and his work with Professor Lambeau solving complex math problems. The journey is really all about Will completing his past and starting to discover who he is and what gifts he has.
I think the main reason Good Will Hunting has such a strong place in my heart as a film is because of the story of Will. While totally different than my own, it still has the same fundamentals of growing up, finding yourself, getting complete with your childhood and your past, falling in love, and searching for your purpose in life that we all experience....and continue to experience over and over again throughout life. While I'm no math genius, never been to Boston, or been an orphan, I still strongly relate to the emotional and psychological struggles that Will has. Damon and Affleck clearly wrote this story pulling from their own lives to some degree, their own journeys into male adulthood, and brought a realism to the details of the story that makes this relatable to just about anyone. The jokes and stories in Good Will Hunting are absolutely hilarious and still give me a great laugh now, dozens of times later. And the verbal banter between Skarsgård and Williams, Williams and Damon, Damon and Driver, and amongst the 4 friends/brothers, is simply some of the best dialog ever written and acted. I laugh, I cry, and I escape in to the world of Will Hunting every single time I watch this movie.
I've said before that part of how I judge a movie to be a 4 or 5 star film is because of it's longevity and appeal over time. I rarely give a movie that I see for the first time a 4 or 5 star rating. Usually they get 3 or 3.5 stars initially, and then have to earn there way up the ladder through repeated viewings over years. I know that Good Will Hunting was probably a 3.5 or 4 star film to me when I first saw it, not that I was rating films back then like I do now. But over the years, I've connected with Good Will Hunting time and time again. It's one of those movies that I watch once a year, not so much as "entertainment" but as a heartfelt psychological escape that puts me "in touch with the universe" as I like to call it. It reconnects me, when I need it to, to the universal energy and "truths" that we are all continually seeking comfort in. It reminds me that I'm here to live the life I've been given, and not someone else's. Will feels this obligation to his friends to stick around Southie, to work in some blue collar job like the rest of them, to raise a family there and go to ball games with his friends and their eventual families. But Will has talents and genius that don't really fit into that world. And he's pulled in these two opposite directions, one with his head and one with his heart. Who in their life hasn't felt that same struggle at some point? Or goes through it again? And again? I know that I have...and that I continue to periodically. Good Will Hunting reminds me to connect my head and my heart and create a path that wins for both.
As I was watching all of the sizzling scenes between Skarsgard and Williams tonight, it dawned on me more clearly than ever how these two characters represent the two opposing, yet complimentary aspects of our human nature: our mind and our heart. Skarsgard, as the Math Professor, represents our intellect, our mind, our voice that's always rattling things off to us in our head. That logical and responsible part of ourselves. Williams, as the Psychologist, represents our heart, our soul, our gut instincts, our feelings. That lover and fighter within us. These two yin-and-yang characters play out so well when separated into these distinct characters, giving us an external view into our own internal battles. I've always known this on a subconscious level, but tonight I became aware of it consciously. Amazing how this film keeps giving me little kernels of insight into myself and into the universe each time I watch it and internalize it.
In terms of filmmaking, Good Will Hunting has excellent production design, Oscar level acting by nearly the entire cast, brilliant writing, subtle but incredible cinematography, and masterful directing. It just doesn't get much better than this! The music and score for Good Will Hunting, while subtle like the photography, are perfectly fitted for the mood, emotion, and story of this film. Music Composer Danny Elfman did his best work here, still to this day. What strikes me most about Director of Photography Jean-Yves Escoffier's work here is the stillness he brings to the shots. It's like he's waiting with his camera for something to happen. And it does! He lets the actors, the sets, and the locations do the work, instead of the handheld photography doing the work. I feel like so many current films, like Black Swan (2010) for example, get caught up in handheld photography that makes me feel like we've all got ADD and can't just sit and watch the story unfold, but that we need the camera to "jiggle" to remind us somehow that we are like voyeurs peeking into the lives of these characters. I don't need that on every character-driven movie! There's my little rant on the current state of handheld cinematography being so dominant in current films. But my point is that Good Will Hunting, which pre-dates the current popularity of handheld photography, has a more subtle yet powerful way of presenting its visuals to us through the richness of the design of the sets, the locations, the costumes and makeup, and the actors themselves.
I look forward to the eventual release of this cinematic masterpiece on Blu-ray, which I would bet comes to fruition this year or next. It will certainly be a film that I upgrade my current DVD collection to include in HD. And hopefully Damon and Affleck will re-team someday to bring us another film of this caliber. As far as I'm concerned, they both have yet to top their performances in Good Will Hunting. But they've come really close with their recent work. Damon with the Bourne Trilogy, and Affleck with The Town (2010).
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four for the movie, Five for the DVD,
This movie is the same. I actually agree with some of the legitimate criticism that this movie is predictable and over wound up at the end. The other criticism about how Will shouldn't be a genius and that the film is generally "trite" seems like silly prejudice.
Take my perspective... I'm a young writer of screenplays and saw the silly looking trailers for this movie written by two young guys. I was sort of furious on the inside that these two were being lauded as great and I've never seen a Robin Williams movie that wasn't over sentimental trash. Then I go to the Angelica in New York, fuming and ready to hate this movie. But I couldn't... it was too well done, well acted by all three of my nemesis and genuinely funny and emotional. Those below who say that Matt Damon's performance is bad are one of two things - without any clue about acting or jealous (and stupid because honestly I'm jealous yet I think he was great).
In addition, the features here are definately good for a couple of days watching and paint a vivid picture of how this film came to be.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Story, Intelligent Script & Superb Acting,
A young genius named Will Hunting (Matt Damon) never attended college, but read mathematical, scientific and literary books on his own for many years. Severely abused as a child in an adoptive home, Will now prefers to exist as a manual laborer living in a condemned house in a dilapidated Boston neighborhood. While working as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) one night, he solves a heretofore unsolvable mathematical problem written on a classroom chalkboard. The professor who originally transcribed the problem, Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), is shocked to find the problem solved but doesn't know who solved it. He eventually finds Will, but Will was arrested and jailed for his involvement in a beating while on a night out with his best friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck), who is a true manual laborer. Determined to save Will from himself, Gerald enlists the aid of a former friend & college roommate, Sean Maquire (Robin Williams), who now works as a community college psychology teacher, to provide psychological therapy for Will. To be released from jail, Will agrees to regular counseling sessions with Sean and to work for Gerald. The initial therapy sessions between Will and Sean are very intense (more so for Sean than for Will, as Will uses his genius to tear into Sean's core and has had a lot of previous psychotherapy experience), but Sean finds ways to work with him. Complicating matters, a mutual attraction develops between Will and a female MIT student, Skylar (Minnie Driver).
Though some that watch this film may be disturbed by the violence depicted when Will relentlessly beats a man, it helps to demonstrate how deeply troubled the character is. Other well acted supporting characters in the film include Morgan O'Mally (played by Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck's younger brother) and Billy McBride (played by Cole Hauser). Ben Affleck did a good job with his portrayal of Will's friend Chuckie.
"Good Will Hunting" earned Matt Damon and Ben Affleck the Oscar for Best Writing for a Screenplay and Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Other Oscar nominations received include Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Original Music, Best Song, Matt Damon for Best Actor, Minnie Driver for Best Supporting Actress and Gus Van Sant for Best Director. Overall, I give "Good Will Hunting" a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a well-acted, gripping, psychological drama.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Contemporary Dramas Available!,
Add to this superb screenplay the support of wonderful actors like Robin Williams, who won a best supporting actor oscar for his role as the psychiatrist who unlocks the secrets to the protagonist (Will Hunting)and allows him to grow and mature. Minnie Driver is also excellent as the love interest drawing Will Hunting toward his beckoning adulthood. She is also the occasion for the single best line in the film; "You like apples? I got her phone number! How do you like them apples?" This film works so well on so many levels that it is really a shame that it lost the Oscar for best picture to "Shakespeare In Love", for this is a far more powerful, enduring, and worthwhile film experience. if you haven't seen it, I recommend you RUN to the nearest video store and rent it. And after you swoon before its magic, you'll want to come back to Amazon.com and order a copy for your personal video library. Enjoy!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian release of Good Will Hunting is great!,
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray)I love this movie and got it today on Blu Ray. This is not made in the states but I was lucky enough to see it listed on Ebay and got it for only $15. It was made in Canada and has cover act that has some info in both English and French. Even though its not a high action movie that would really benefit from the Blu Ray upgrade, I think the upgrade is very noticable and I am glad I decided to upgrade. GWH is one of my favorite films of all time and having it in Blu Ray is awesome!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively ambitous in concept, near perfect in execution,
This review is from: Good Will Hunting [VHS] (VHS Tape)This is a much more ambitious project than would appear at first glance. Given the benefit of hindsight, it would seem like a no-brainer to let Ben and Matt try their hands at writing a buddy movie with lots of male bonding and weepy emotion. But coming from two unknown commodities, it really is a startling achievement.
Their script goes down several paths that seasoned scriptwriters don't dare tread, for if they are not done perfectly they tend to collapse like a house of cards on a waterbed.
First, we get the working class buddies. Affleck, his brother Casey, Cole Hauser, and Damon have wonderful and believable chemistry together as a bunch of South Boston wiseguys. We see them cruising for burgers and chicks, picking fights, and going to work, with a habit of ease obviously built over years and years. Later on, someone says of Affleck's character's relationship with Damon's: "Chuckie's family, he'd lie down in...traffic for you." The line becomes superfluous, a validation of things we've already seen for ourselves.
Second, we get the tortured genius/prodigy. The credit here must be split in two places. First, the script takes great pains in its authenticity. Apparently the theorems that Will solves are as complex as portrayed, and are solved in the appropriate manner. Most movie portrayals of genius tend to fudge that part of the equation, hoping that the audience is dumb enough to not recognize that the guitar virtuoso is not really playing the song (a problem that I found distracting in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown") or that the great writer's words are not up to snuff (as is the problem in director Van Sant's later film "Finding Forrester"). Second, Damon himself does a wonderful job in showing both the ease at which this math comes to him, and the coiled frustration that it burdens him with.
Third, we get the mentors. Stellan Skarsgard, as the mathematician who discovers Will, could have easily settled for being a two-dimensional villain. But his Prof. Lambeau is believably flawed, and his displaced ambition never becomes cartoonish or unredeemably destructive. Robin Williams, as the psychologist Will is court-ordered to see, manages nary a moment of his patented over-the-top showmanship. Rather, his Sean is reserved, anguished, and powerful, but always in very subtle ways. Williams does his best work portraying Sean's grief, calling it up in a matter-of-fact way until it needs to boil over and lash out to protect itself, as it does in his first scene with Will. Their relationship ends up strengthening over time, culminating in one final scene of catharsis that if portrayed by lesser actors with a lesser script, would come across as schmaltzy, but here is very real and very moving.
Fourth, we get the girl. I remember when this movie first came out, Minnie Driver's character took a lot of flak for throwing herself so shamelessly at Will, who obviously wasn't capable at giving her anything back. On looking at the movie again, it is astounding to me that this act of courage could be criticized so. Her Skylar -- Driver does a wonderful job at portraying her joie de vivre, as well as her self-consciousness -- is set up for life, both in her education and in her finances, so she doesn't really need a hardship case like Will. And yet she loves him, and repeatedly tells him so, knowing full well that he's not going to say it back. Sure, for the most part it's borderline masochistic, and she puts herself through a needless amount of torture, but wouldn't an easier road be less satisfying? And wouldn't a less complex character for boy genius Will to be confronted with just become easy prey? Yes and yes, I say.
These four items, combined with its flair for solid and sometimes flashy dialogue ("How do you like them apples?"), make up a wonderful film. It makes good on all its promises, and manages to be entertaining, emotional, and assuredly worthwhile.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent direction, strong Damon performance,
The chemistry between Williams and Damon *works* - the various power plays and tests seem very real, and felt deeply by both actors. The friendship between Ben Afleck and Damon is easy and familiar, which isn't surprising given that they grew up together. Damon and Minnie Driver don't have quite the right electricity between them, but Driver does an excellent job of portraying the slightly eccentric Skylar.
Van Sant's direction is outstanding, and resembles his work in "My Own Private Idaho" in bits, but has a maturity not as well-developed ten years ago.
Overall, a very good movie with powerful performances given unflinchingly.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall good Dvd,
This review is from: Good Will Hunting (DVD)My Rating is based on video quality, sound, features, and the movie itself.
Video quality: I thought it was excellent but what I liked most about this dvd was the anamorphic view. This means a wider than usual widescreen which means a bigger picture for most of us.
Sound: Great, nothing to report.
Features: I made the mistake in buying the regular version of this dvd. Features-wise it only has a music video as an added extra. A little poor on the features but thats why they have the collectors edition.
Movie: The movie itself is a great movie. Set in Boston, the movie caught me by suprise because I usually like action movies and not drama.
Overall, I think it is worth it to the COLLECTORS EDITION Dvd. Do not get the regular dvd because for a couple bucks more you can get a whole lot of features.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Film of 97/98,
By A Customer
This review is from: Good Will Hunting [VHS] (VHS Tape)Surely to become one of the most memorable dramas of the 90`s, "Good Will Hunting" is a genuinely excellent film that is enriched with a rare, down to earth power. Surprisingly moving and effective, "Good Will Hunting" is basically about choosing what we truly want and need in our lives. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck`s script is incredible, and it goes perfectly with Gus Van Sant`s style of directing, which is this time a lot more "softer" than his previous works. "Good Will Hunting" is brimming with remarkable performances, and is constructed almost flawlessly. The publicity the film recieved is well-deserved. An unforgettable and highly satisfying movie.
The lead character of the film is Will Hunting(Damon). A cocky, rebellious but deeply troubled young man who is also a mathematical prodigy. But instead of using his gift, Will hides it, and mops floors for a living. But Will`s phenomenon is accidentally discovered one day by an MIT professor. He practically offers Will a ticket to exposure and fame, but he obviously refuses. Will would rather stick to his blue-collar roots and best friend Chuckie (Affleck). After several failed attempts to reach him with psychologists, the professor calls in his old roommate Sean Maguire. A wise and recently widowed psychiatrist played excellently by Robin Williams. Sean and Will seem to understand each other deeply, and they ultimately become each other`s inspiration to change themselves for the better. To add even more complication to Will`s life, he meets a vibrant Harvard student named Skylar (Minnie Driver). She quickly falls in love with him, but unfortunately evokes Will`s traumatic childhood and makes him more confused then ever. Between fame, roots or a true love, Will`s search for the answer is difficult, but slowly becomes clear in the end.
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Good Will Hunting [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] by Gus Van Sant (Blu-ray - 2011)
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