Good Will Hunting (1997) – Film Review

Good Will Hunting

Starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, and Minnie Driver

Directed by Gus Van Sant

IMDB Rating: 8.3

Review written by Rachel Geiger

This timeless movie received a lot of attention and ending up getting nominated for nine Oscars and won two of those. This is the film that launched the careers of the young stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who both wrote and starred in the movie.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a twenty year old self-taught genius from Boston, who works as a janitor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). One of the Math professors, Gerald Lambeau, posts difficult theories for his students to solve. None of them are able to solve it but Will solves the problems anonymously. When away from working, Will gets arrested for fighting and Lambeau wants to work with Will on Math but is told by the court the boy must also see a therapist. Eventually, Lambeau calls upon his college roommate (Robin Williams) who gets the boy to open up.

A beautifully creative story about a genius working as a janitor. It’s a simple plot but the depth and layers of Will that are gradually revealed due to the therapy sessions with Sean. Another positive side to the story is Will’s character of friends. They add some humor and banter to the already different story. I also love how much is explored with the characters of Sean and Gerald, old friends but there was always jealousy there. This part of the plot really shows more about the histories between characters and the emotions are extremely realistic and relatable. My least favorite part of the movie is the relationship between Skylar and Will. Despite this, it was really necessary for us to see the emotional damage of Will and his attempt to push Skylar away.

The acting in this movie is absolutely perfect. Minnie Driver and Matt Damon both created characters that had some awkward moments, but that’s what makes it realistic. I like that the relationship wasn’t too perfect but it wasn’t too dramatic either. Matt Damon was great in the role of what seems like a bratty smart kid, is actually something much deeper that Damon showcases in such a real way. Ben Affleck’s speech towards the end of the film is my personal favorite moment in the film. I also think that the young actor in general was hilarious but he also played his character as a kid who has accepted his life in Boston but he knows greater things are out there for his friend. Robin Williams won an Oscar for this role and it’s still my personal favorite of his. He improvs in the movie which makes it so much more real and candid. His speeches are some of the better moments in the movie as well.

Director Gus Van Sant was one of the few directors that would take this project on from two unknowns in the industry during this time. He did an amazing job at capturing the city of Boston and showing how it affects Will’s life. This is the only home that Will knows and I think Van Sant’s directing focuses a lot on these basic camera shots that are extremely significant to the story. He’s a really trusted and respected director in Hollywood and this was one of his big successes.

If you haven’t seen Good Will Hunting, check it out on Netflix as soon as possible. It’s one of those movies that I could watch over and over and still not get tired of it. The story is so striking and simple but the layers added onto the story is what makes it worth watching. The casting couldn’t have been more spot on. Everything from the soundtrack to the costumes is spot on and helps tell this story.

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