“Good Will Hunting”

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote and star in their breakout film, “Good Will Hunting”.

Will Hunting (Damon) lives in a shack in South Boston and works as a janitor in the math building at MIT. He’s also a genius. A professor in the building (Stellan Skarsgard) discovers Will’s talent and recruits him for the graduate program.

However, Will has a criminal background and a past that haunts him and will not allow him the freedom to succeed. So the prof sets him up with a series of psychologists, all of which Will decimates with his intelligence. With no other therapist left, the prof turns Sean Maguire (Oscar winner Robin Williams) who is an old friend and used to be a brilliant psychologist until depression over the death of his wife sidetracked his career.

Director Gus Van Sant presents a sepia-toned south Boston, one that glows with autumnal orange and yellow and is completely different from the bleak version in “Mystic River” or the corrupt one in “The Departed”. The film earned nine Oscar nominations and won Best Supporting Actor for Williams and Best Screenplay for Damon and Affleck.

Both wins are well deserved. Williams’s performance as the no-nonsense Maguire is terrific. And the screenplay invests a lot into each character, most of which are focused Will and Sean. Even Affleck as Will’s best friend is excellent. Affleck rebukes Will’s inferiority complex, stating that Will owes it to him to use his gifts. It’s a terrific scene, from a first-rate screenplay, in an excellent film.