"Good Will Hunting"
Featuring Elliot Smith
Music Box Records
27 Tracks/Disc Time: 44:53
Grade: A- (BEST OF 2014)
*1997 BEST ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE NOMINEE*
It is really hard to believe that "Good Will Hunting" was released 17 years ago and has enjoyed celebrated success on home video and just recently had a 15th Anniversary Blu-Ray release on Lionsgate which featured a look back at the film during that time period. The film made fledging actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck overnight sensations and made them movie stars that would lead to "The Bourne Films" and "Batman" respectively and with Affleck now being a very respected director for his critically acclaimed thrillers "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" and with "Argo" winning Best Picture for 2012 last year. The film stars Damon as Will Hunting, a troubled mathematical genius who's had a rather traumatic past that always has him lashing out physically and getting thrown into jail constantly. One day, Will solves what is a very difficult mathematical equation posted by an esteemed MIT professor (Stellan Skasgaard, "Ronin") who he thinks belongs to that of an actual MIT student while working mopping floors and soon taken in by the professor to try and hone his gift for math. Little does he know about his personal troubles and the fact that he hangs out with his drinking and troublemaking buddies, Chucky (Ben Affleck along with his brother, Casey ("Ocean's Eleven") and Cole Hauser, ("2 Fast 2 Furious".) that leads him to take him to a psychologist to figure out what is wrong with him. After going through an assortment of therapists (including the late George Plimpton) with whom he matches intellectual wits with, he calls on an old friend, Sean Maguire (Oscar Winner Robin Williams, in his greatest performance) who recently lost his wife to take him on. After a troubling start, Sean really starts to break into Will's tough facade and actually starts to make an emotional difference that leads to a relationship with Skylar (Minnie Driver, "Circle of Friends") an MIT student who sees something special in him along with Sean.
With a rousing and touching finale, "Good Will Hunting" was the surprise of the Oscar season in 1997 grossing over 100 million dollars and well deserved nominations for Director Gus Van Sant and the film was also nominated for Best Picture in a great group of films that eventually lost to James Cameron's "Titanic". Another important element which earned well deserved Oscar nomination in the Best Original Dramatic Score category is the memorable work of Oscar nominee Danny Elfman, who also went up against himself in the Best Original Comedy or Musical Score Category for his fun work on "Men In Black", who was going through a grown up musical phase after starting with hit films like "Batman" and "Edward Scissorhands" in which his fan base really grew. Writing a rather intimate and poignant score for this film, Elfman perfectly captures the moods, inner demons, brilliance and frustrations that surround Will Hunting through the films' 126 minutes. His score is the perfect backing that shifts from excellent acoustic guitar work to a lovely chorus of voices that act as Will's tormented past that wants to heal.
Paired on this CD with the solid meditative work of the late Elliot Smith, Elfman's score is the great counterbalance starting with the mix of full orchestra, chorus and solo acoustic guitar work in the "Main Titles" featuring a touch of the film's Boston Irish background which might be one of his best compositions in his excellent filmography. The score is very subtle and playful much like Elfman's other works displayed in the tracks "Genie Mopper", "First Calculation", "Theorem", and "Mystery Math" that are very pensive but do have his whimiscal style that really evolved soon after with mature films such as "A Simple Plan", "Instinct" and "A Civil Action" for which this score would heavily influence those soon after. Elfman underscore's Will's reluctance to get help or change ("Jail", Second Shrink", "Time's Up", and "Staring Contest") through delicate orchestrations that would lead to very special melodic material that leads up to the finale "Whose Fault", which really captures the essence of Elfman's full developed dramatic style with a full blooded chorus and guitar work that is captivating.
Elliot Smith's invaluable contributions to the film are right on par with Elfman's score contributing memorable songs that play a great part in the film's narrative that include "No Name #3" , "Say Yes", "Between The Bars", "Angeles" and the Oscar Nominated "Miss Misery", which captivated the airwaves in late 1997 and throughout the late 1990's. His soothing voice and excellent guitar playing just captures the atmosphere and moods along with giving Will a soulful voice that's underneath that stone hearted fascade that eventually is full of love and genius.
Finally, this release is the definitive and premiere release of the score that was only issued as an Academy For Your Consideration promotional CD that was issued to voters come Oscar time which featured the majority of the score plus Elliot Smith's "Miss Misery" and very little of Elfman's score was issued on Capitol Records best selling album. This is definitely a solid release that has been a long time in coming and really fills one of the holes of Danny Eflman's memorable discography. "Good Will Hunting" is a great film and features a great score that is definitely worth owning. Thumbs way way way up!!! Brilliant!