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Good film crafting,
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This review is from: Good Will Hunting (Miramax Collector's Series) (DVD)
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 into a sophisticated drama. In fact, it could hardly avoid getting better as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck must have received a ton of brutal criticism from every Hollywood executive that they approached.
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.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2011 11:02:23 AM PDT
Mark O. Avery says:
A well done, smart review...touching and inspirational says it all.
Posted on Jul 15, 2011 12:52:39 PM PDT
Can anybody list the ASIN number of the
Full Screen edition of this movie? Is the
following, ASIN: B00004CZNL , the Full
Posted on Aug 13, 2011 9:24:40 AM PDT
Paul Carroll says:
An excellent review; nice!
Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:49:31 PM PDT
Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:51:56 PM PDT
Posted on Sep 26, 2011 11:53:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2011 11:59:25 AM PDT
Posted on Sep 26, 2011 12:05:56 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 26, 2011 12:06:25 PM PDT]
Posted on Sep 27, 2011 10:45:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2011 12:34:11 PM PDT
Posted on Sep 27, 2011 10:49:37 AM PDT
Posted on Sep 3, 2012 8:06:43 PM PDT
J. L LaRegina says:
Today I viewed GOOD WILL HUNTING for the first time since the late 1990s. Amazing how, as he gives his reason for turning down the N.S.A. job, Will speaks as if he knows George W. Bush even though the film was made several years before Bush was known by many outside of Texas and Washington, D.C..