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GOOD WILL HUNTING(director: Gus Van Sant; screenwriters: Matt Damon/Ben Affleck; cinematographer: Jean-Yves Escoffier; editor: Pietro Scalia; music: Danny Elfman; cast: Robin Williams (Sean McGuire), Matt Damon (Will), Ben Affleck (Chuckie), Stellan Skarsgard (Lambeau), Minnie Driver (Skylar), Casey Affleck (Morgan), Cole Hauser (Billy), George Plimpton (Psychologist); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lawrence Bender; Miramax Films; 1997)
Not a work of art or great power, but it has some moving moments.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Gus Van Sant (“Drugstore Cowboy”/”My Own Private Idaho”) and co-writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck put on airs of reverse snobbery to convey sincerity in their story about a confused genius.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a volatile orphaned 20-year-old janitor at MIT, hanging out with his rough and tumble pub crawling buddies in South Boston. Math Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) discovers that the Southie is secretly a mathematical genius with a photographic memory and becomes his mentor. After Will gets into a scrape with the law the prof arranges for him to consult a long list of respected shrinks, but things don’t work out. As a last resort, the prof steers Will to the least respected therapist, the instructor at Bunker Hill Community College, Sean McGuire (Robin Williams). The strength of the film lies in the relationship between these two career underachievers who despite their stubborness rally to work together to help improve each other.

Ben Affleck plays Chuckie, Will’s best friend and adviser; while the animated Minnie Driver plays Skylar, someone Will falls in love with. She’s a Harvard pre-med student who has the full-package–good looks, smarts, personality, sensitivity and good character. She doesn’t pressure Will to change, but encourages him to fulfill his destiny.

The film rails at America’s inherent anti-intellectualism while taking an anti-elitist stance. But all its answers for success are clichés — like ‘getting in touch with your inner being.’ It also reduces every problematic moment to some Psych 101 explanation. Not a work of art or great power, but it has some moving moments.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”