Re:View – Good Will Hunting

good_will_hunting_movie

GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)

Starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, and Stellan Skarsgård

QUICK SYNOPSIS

A young janitor at MIT, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), is a gifted mathematician.  However, his rough and troubled upbringing in South Boston and rough crowd of friends, including his best friend Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) has left him on the outside looking in, and one particular scuffle lands him in jail.  Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) discovers this youths unique aptitude, and is allowed to take him under his wing as long as Will sees a therapist.  After going through a few therapists, Will starts meeting with an old roommate of Professor Lambeau’s, Doctor Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).  After some initial hiccups in their time together, Sean and Will begin to develop a reporie and even a friendship that plumbs the dpths of Will’s past and present issues, as well as helping Sean address some clutter in his own personal life.  As the movie progresses, Will is forced to face his own rough upbringing and “Southie” street life, as well as his new found work with Professor Lambeau, job offers from his work, and a girlfriend (Minnie Driver) who wants to be a part of a life he is unwilling to bring her in to.

QUICK TAKE

In Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s writing debut, Good Will Hunting deals with the complex life of a math genius who is nothing like most math genuises.  In spite of his troubled past and even more troubled present, Will is ushered into a world unlike his South Boston life.  He meets Skylar, a bright young woman going to Harvard, who he starts to date on a whim after visiting a bar.  Under Sean’s encouragement, he keeps seeing her, since he normally pushes dates away after one date.  This movie’s narrative is less of a story of a rags to riches story, or from Southie to MIT genius, but more of a story of a troubled genius who must deal with his past in order to find what truly matters in life.  Sean shares a similar story to Will and the two develop a friendship that helps Will to deal with his demons, even after he pushes Skylar away.  Sean helps Will to see his genius has allowed him to know everything while experiencing nothing, and Will uses his intellect and wit to keep everyone in his life at an arms length.  Will’s story becomes one of getting out of the hole that has been dug for his life and finding a purpose greater than his current Boston life and even greater than his math wizardry at MIT.  Sean helps him to see beyond those things to a different risk, a different adventure beyond worldly success or a comfortable, familiar life.

Such a good movie with a great exploration of success, love, personal demons, and life.  The underlying tension between Sean and Prof. Lambeau, as two former roommates whose lives have gone in radically different directions (one “successful” and the other not) plays out in Will’s life as he battles his own problems long with the dual tension of love and worldly success.  It brings to mind what Jesus said about gaining the world but losing your soul.  While Will is not striving for salvation in Jesus, he certainly is caught between a lucrative job because of his genius and the relationship he has with Skylar and his friendship with Sean.  Is what he longs for worldly gain (Vanity, as Solomon would put it) or does he “see about a girl”.

BEST QUOTE (long and a tad vulgar, but too good not to post)

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You’re an orphan right?
[Will nods]
You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally… I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.” – Sean (Robin Williams)

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