Movie Review: Good Will Hunting (1997)

Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Will Hunting is a genius who has found himself at the wrong end of the system. Orphaned as a child and physically abused while in foster care, he grew up on the streets with a small group of friends in the south of Boston. A college professor at M.I.T. and a psychologist see the potential within him and after saving him from serving a prison sentence make it their mission for Will to reach his potential.

Good Will Hunting is another one of those movies that is considered one of the greatest of all time and comes highly recommended by so many people but I’ve managed to let it pass me by for so long now. So far May has been quite mixed in terms of quality of movie that I’ve watched so I was hoping that this film was as good as everybody says so it can boost the month of May up some.

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to movies such as Good Will Hunting, which comes with such an expectation to live up to, I have always been a sceptic. Movies such as The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Oldboy (2003) to but a few have all come massively critically acclaimed and were all hugely disappointing. Thankfully Good Will Hunting didn’t fall under the same category as the aforementioned movies as it managed to live up to and surpass every expectation I had. This movie truly had everything from exceptional script writing to powerful performances from the entirety of the cast and I couldn’t be more pleased that I had finally given this one a watch.

Matt Damon is the star of the show as he plays Will Hunting who is a genius who had a rough beginning to his life and because of that is unable to fully commit to a future for himself. He surrounds himself with a very close knit group of friends and nobody else as he lives quite a self destructive life despite having all the potential in the world. Spending his childhood as an orphan and being abused by his foster father he spent a lot of his childhood fighting and being arrested. An award winning mathematics professor takes a shine to Will when he realises Will is the only one that can solve an equation that he posted in a university hall so he bails Will out of a possible prison sentence for assault to work with the genius to maximise his potential. Using old friend Sean, played by the late Robin Williams, to act as his psychologist/mentor in an attempt to breakthrough to the stubborn tear away, Will must decide what path he takes in order to fully utilise his gift of knowledge.

Matt Damon as Will Hunting was absolutely phenomenal to watch as he was able to display such a range of emotions and his monologue style speeches were so intelligently written and perfectly delivered. Also Robin Williams is a magnificent inclusion to the cast as he plays psychologist Sean and is one of the only people in Wills life that acts as an appropriate father figure to him and they share an extremely touching moment together towards the end of the movie after Sean puts in the time and effort to get through to Will and point him in the right direction. In addition to these two great performances was the performance of Minnie Driver who delivers quite possibly the performance of her career as she plays Will’s love interest Skylar. She delivers an emotional performance as she is trying to break Will’s stubbornness to accept change and commitment. Skylar truly wears her heart on her sleeve as she has to deal with a combination of love and rejection at the hands of Will Hunting. I could seriously applaud each and every men ever of the cast but everybody does tremendously well regardless of the size of their role. Ben and Casey Affleck as well as Cole Hauser who play Will Hunting’s group of friends were terrifically cast and despite only have smaller roles than some are really integral to the growth of Hunting’s character.

The movie was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and I really couldn’t find any flaw in the script as each character seemed to so detailed precisely written. The story flows at such a methodical pace which allows for so some great character development and growth. If I had to nit-picky and find something about this film that I didn’t like it would be Minnie Driver’s attempt at an Irish accent while she was trying to impress Will and his friends by telling a dirty joke. For me the accent was pretty poor and was a little cringey to watch but other than that I really couldn’t find anything wrong with this movie.

To summarise, Good Will Hunting is truly fantastic and I implore anybody who hasn’t seen it to make the time and watch it, you shall not be disappointed. One of the best movies I’ve watched all year.


2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Good Will Hunting (1997)

    1. I loved Shawshank, it’s up there in my top 5. My favourite of all time is The Boondock Saints. Despite having some glaring flaws it’s got something special about it for me


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