GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)

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Christopher

The first memory I have of this film is when it first came out I was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia and the clip where Will is talking about choosing the wrench for his stepfather to beat him with played on a news show. I remember thinking at the time that the movie appeared way too sad and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to watch it.

I’m glad something changed my mind because when I saw Good Will Hunting for the first time in high school, or middle school or something, I remember really liking it. I thought the story was interesting and the actors were fine but watching it now, I feel as I grow up this movie gets more interesting and more a movie I wouldn’t mind watching again. I think so much of this movie works well and it just feels good to watch a movie that writes well. I think with Elizabeth and I watching a lot of terrible movies it’s nice to watch one that’s just really good, and I feel like Good Will Hunting does that.

I’m sure his best movie to me is one of his family films but as an adult I think it might be Good Will Hunting. It’s a terrible tragedy about his death, it didn’t hit me as hard as Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I will definitely miss Robin Williams. I think Elizabeth and I are going to try to watch some of his stand-up soon. I think that’s where his real legacy will live.

Elizabeth

Chris and I were shocked and upset by the news of Robin Williams’ death, along with pretty much everyone else. We decided to watch one of his best movies and one of his worst movies. And I happen to think Good Will Hunting was Robin Williams’ best movie, period.

Good Will Hunting is important to me. It was one of the first, if not the first, movie that caused me to go on a massive please-let-me-see-this-R-movie-even-though-I’m-too-young-in-this-case-9 campaign in my house in order to see this movie. And it worked, eventually, on a few conditions: I had to wait until it was out on video, my mom had to see it first, I had to watch it with my mom, and she had to fast forward through Skylar (Minnie Driver)’s semen-based joke (which totally makes sense but there’s no way I would have known what the joke meant had I seen it at the time). It was the first time I was aware of Gus Van Sant and the first time I really noticed Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. I’ve seen it a million times and it’s a movie where I can now anticipate almost every line before it’s spoken, but it never gets old.

Obviously there are a lot of elements at work here, including incredible performances, but I think it’s the writing that really shines. Sean (Robin Williams)’s monologue from the scene pictured is one of the greatest monologues I’ve ever heard, both in its writing and its performance. It’s a speech that so perfectly encapsulates the conflict of trying to think outside of your own experiences while also judging other people based on what you think you know about them. There’s Chuckie (Ben Affleck)’s great speech to Will (Matt Damon) about how and why Will insults his friends by not utilizing his own intelligence. There’s the fight between Skylar and Will, prompted by Skylar asking Will to move to California with her, that nearly breaks both of them and causes them to suddenly reveal things about themselves to each other that they had kept bottled up. And it’s not just the big speeches or conversations that are so great; Good Will Hunting is also super funny and it’s charming, too.

Going along with the writing, the characters’ relationships are all so well-defined and great, especially with Will. Will is obviously the bridge connecting everyone and his relationship with each character acts as an illustration of another aspect of his personality. I love that Will and Chuckie love each other without question, I love that Will and Skylar bring out so much in each other that obviously hasn’t been brought out before, and I love that despite everything else, Will and Sean are really each others match and challenge each other.

And yes, Robin Williams is great here. He plays Sean so well and so surprisingly, although there are flashes of Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society. Will is so volatile, ready to drop everything in a minute for a fight. Sean is what you want out of a therapist: calm, soothing, empathic, and not condescending. I don’t think it ever really seems like Sean sees himself in Will, even though they’re from the same neighborhood and both dealt with childhood abuse. It’s more that Sean sees Will for who he really is, for better or worse, and what he sees is brilliant and worthy of love and happiness. I know the scene where Sean repeats “It’s not your fault,” until Will weeps is famous and fairly well mocked, which upsets me because it is an incredible scene. It’s the end of Sean and Will’s time as patient and therapist, and Will casually mentions being beaten with a wrench by a foster parent as a child. “All this shit, it’s not your fault,” Sean says, with Will automatically saying, “I know,” as if it’s not the first time he’s heard that, which it most certainly isn’t. But unlike those who may have said that to Will in the past, Sean keeps saying it, with a quiet, clear, calm voice, and lets Will get annoyed, explode, freak out, and finally break down and weep in Sean’s arms. It gives me goosebumps just writing about it.

I wish all of Robin Williams’ work could be on par with Good Will Hunting, but I could say the same for anyone else involved in the movie (sup, Gigli). But this is also the kind of movie that if it happened to the best thing that anyone involved (Van Sant, Damon, etc) ever did, that would be okay because Good Will Hunting is that fucking good.

 

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