Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Robin Williams hasn’t showed any age since it cleaned-up at the Oscars several years ago. Gus Van Sant’s directing chores shows the weight of his knowledge of Generations X and Y. And all the principals of this independent film, set in Boston, confound the test of time.
Kevin Smith’s involvement flies under the radar, like an American Ninja taking time off from New Jersey to explore low income Boston. The screenplay written by Damon and Affleck, is unconventional, yet satisfying.
The tale opens up in a stoic, Spartan room and the question is how long the prodigy, Damon plays, can sit idly as the world passes him by. Nonetheless he has roots in Boston although he’s an orphan; his best friends are here and they don’t hold an iota of bureaucracy to him, and the life of bar hopping and carousing with them has it’s inevitable expiration date once his genius is discovered by an MIT professor played by Stellan Skarsgard.
Will has some trouble with the law and is sent to jail after a fight, highlighted by an absence of sound where he happens to punch a cop. The mathematics professor, Lambeau, offers him a shot to advance in the world and to avoid jail time Soon the apt screenplay explores, delving into, universal themes like loyalty, friendship, and love.
All throughout, common features of Boston are present. Whenever Affleck’s character Chuckie picks him up for a ride to work, Chuckie hands him a Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee, a staple of New England. Towards the end, when Will has to confront his unconscious and self-reflect, he rides the T subway back home from his appointments.
After he is discovered by Lambeau his day to day habits receive an overhaul;. Suddenly he has appointments with the Professor who looks to place him in the mathematics field, provided he sees a shrink, which is where Robin Williams’s Sean comes in.
When Damon first meets his lady love at a Harvard bar, a line drops that is the only weak line in the script;. Instead of meeting Skylar up for coffee he just says, “maybe we can get together and eat a bunch of caramels”. America likes its coffee black and finds the facetiousness on his part too presumptuous. The dynamic duo behind the screenplay quickly make up for it when Damon confronts the other suitor at the bar with “do you like apples? Well, I got her number; how do you like them apples”. The dialogue is certainly deserving of its Oscar award and fleshes out with Gus Van Sant’s poetic direction perfectly.
Will has a hard time dismissing Sean as he did his other therapists. Sean speaks the same language as Will since they both hail from the same neighborhood, South Boston. When Lambeau first comes to see Sean, the latter finishes of his lecture to the students of Bunker Hill Community College with “next we talk about Freud and how he did enough cocaine to kill a small horse.’
Sean is the affable Professor of psychology and knows how to band with the common man unlike Lambeau who leaves Will in Sean’s care. Both play off well with each other but Will early on hits hard, where Sean sleeps, on the topic of Sean’s dead wife which severely tests any tolerance that Sean might have had. But the sessions begin and tempts Will forward through sheer curiosity as well as a kinship to Robin Williams’s character.
Will being an orphan tends to test the limits of his relationships. He already knows he has the loyalty of his friends, and unconsciously he is looking for a place in the world. Ultimately, that task is co mesh well with a love he just stumbles on, with Skylar, Minnie Driver’s character—and where that will lead is up to Will and what he’s willing to sacrifice to stick with his guns and aspire for a relationship that once again proves to be true.