Winner - Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams)

Winner - Best Writing (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon)

MIRAMAX FILMS (1997)

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgård, Casey Affleck

Good Will Hunting - the story of an extraordinarily gifted man who doesn’t feel required to justify his talents, and whilst wrestling with the demons of his past and insecurities of the present finds his match in the psychiatrist who has taken a similar road to himself.

For what is essentially a simple story, Good Will Hunting delivers upon it with aplomb – great acting, great scenes and a winning conclusion. Part drama, part comedy, part romance, the movie promises and delivers a lot throughout, all whilst knowing where it stands – it doesn’t overly glamourize the  younger characters, or the issues they face, just as it doesn’t make the older more studied characters completely stuffy and without personality. It’s a breezy tale mixed with all of the above aspects.

Matt Damon is brilliant as the part cocky, part angsty Will Hunting, delivering a great performance. His interactions with Affleck, Driver and Williams (especially) all come off completely natural. The development of his character is put across wonderfully, and feels genuine throughout. His performance rightly garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Robin Williams gives a soaring Academy Award winning performance as the troubled psychiatrist Sean. The emotions he portrays discussing his wife and the lack of life Will has had is faultless, and the bench scene is a marvellous cinematic moment – as well as the moment in the third act where it all comes together in his office. A tender and also sharp performance. With all the revisionism of his career that has occurred, none of that here – he is the real deal in this film.

The rest of the cast help to glue the movie together further, with Ben Affleck having a blast as Chuckie, and getting himself a great scene during a job interview too, as well as the near-cliché friends scene towards the conclusion. Minnie Driver received an Academy Award nomination for her soft and loving portrayal of Skylar- Will’s unswerving girlfriend.

The movie is shot in an arty, grainy style which helps the visuals of the movie, and elevates it from a standard beat-by-beat movie, almost covering for the simplistic story – Van Sant capturing an unhurried pace allowing his characters to breath and develop helps the movie hugely. There are no major stereotypes to be found here, thanks to Van Sant’s knowledge of the character types he is working with. The pacing of the film and it’s editing gained another Academy Award nomination, along with nominations in the categories of Best Score, Director, Picture and Song (for “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith)

There’s a lot to like within the film, and not much to dislike really – the plot is formulaic and the ending is neatly telegraphed, but above all, Good Will Hunting is an emotionally charged, brilliantly acted, feel good movie. Highly recommended.

October 13th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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