Volume 91, Issue 57

Friday, January 9, 1998

on the rocks


Good film hunting

Gazette File Photo
"...AND SO I SAYS TO THE BARTENDER, 'IT AIN'T MY HIPPO... GET IT? HIPPO." Matt Damon and Robin Williams star in Good Will Hunting an intelligent flick about a delinquent genius.

By Vivien Cheng
Gazette Staff

Good Will Hunting overwhelms so incredibly on first viewing that the urge will be strong to immediately watch it again.

The fact that such an insightful, thought-provoking script was written by two 20-something actors/writers – Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – is enough to truly inspire anyone. With a strong ensemble of actors and an original story, Good Will Hunting stands apart from the usual mess of cookie-cutter agendas that prevail in the usual assortment of films.

Directed by Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), the film follows Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a delinquent genius who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Will's aptitude is discovered when he is able to figure out a Rhodes-Scholar-level math proof in the same amount of time that it would have taken the same Rhodes Scholar to add. Yet this genius remains a psychological puzzle to himself and the people around him. When Will is convicted for assault, he is saved from a prison sentence – on the conditions that he see Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) and therapist Sean McGuire (Robin Williams) to help Will explore his genius. Through his relationship with these two characters, he is able to attain a certain level of self-awareness and leave his unhappy past behind.

What makes Good Will Hunting so enjoyable are the characters who breathe life into their on-screen relationships. A strong chemistry is depicted through Will's relationship with the warm and witty student Skylar (Minnie Driver). The pair's intimacy is well captured by Van Sant's darkly-lit close-ups at unconventional angles that mimic their unique relationship.

Williams also gives a memorable performance as McGuire. Instead of donning a condescending father-figure attitude towards Will, McGuire comes across as an understanding friend. Eventually, McGuire helps Will overcome fears and amend the childhood scars that plagued the boy in his early years.

Affleck, who plays Will's close friend Chuckie and Skarsgard, round out the solid cast.

The individual performances are worth mentioning because of their ability to draw the audience into the story. In the same way that an audience might root for the good guy (or bad guy) in an action flick, Good Will Hunting lures plenty of emotional involvement from its viewers. The conversations spoken and the incidents that arise are presented in such a way that viewers might find themselves wanting to be a part of the action.

The possibility that Damon is over-inflating his ego by portraying himself as a distraught Mr. Know-It-All shouldn't determine whether Good Will Hunting is a likeable film. The screenplay itself is entitled to at least half of the film's merit while the other half goes out to the well-deserving cast.

Good Will Hunting opens today at Wellington 8 (7:20 p.m. and 10:05 p.m.) and Galleria Cinema (7:10 p.m. and 10 p.m.).

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998