Sunday, August 2, 2015

Good Will Hunting

Movie Name: Good Will Hunting
Year of Release: 1997
Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, George Plimpton, Alison Foland, John Mighton
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Following the very well received "To Die For", director Gus Van Sant tackled what remains to this day, his biggest commercial success. Based on an original screenplay from two of his cast members, namely Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the film focuses on the story of Will Hunting, a young man who's been abused growing up, and who works as a janitor at the M.I.T. Will is actually a wunderkind, and once that is apparent to one of the teachers at the college, he tries to assist him and focus his efforts in order to find a good position in the marketplace. Sadly the abuse suffered throughout the years, has left scars (both physical and otherwise), and in order to overcome it, Will starts getting counseling from a somewhat retired therapist by the name of Sean Maguire. The encounter of these two personalities functions as a cathartic moment for both, as they revisit moments of their lives that led them to where they are.
The universe of the very talented Gus Van Sant found an interesting match in the screenplay of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Van Sant's work traditionally focuses on stories of young heroes who are trying to find their path in the world, and who are sometimes at odds with that world. His universe and storytelling match perfectly with the story of Will Hunting, the bruised young genius, who keeps people at bay for fear of being hurt or let down. The film could have easily been maudlin or overly dramatic, however the director keeps it grounded in reality, with enough humor and edge which allows the characters to be seen as more than just archetypes. The cast is uniformly excellent, in particular Robin Williams (who won the Academy Award), Matt Damon and Minnie Driver. The cinematography from Jean-Yves Escoffier and the score from Danny Elfman (with songs from Elliott Smith) are also fantastic. A good film always worth revisiting.