Good Will Hunting (1997)

Shows that the dudes who clean the toilets in my school, aren’t as dumb as they seem.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) spends his days as a janitor at MIT, but the aimless young man is also a mathematical genius. So when his talents are discovered, a therapist (Robin Williams) helps Will confront the demons that have been holding him back.

Good Will Hunting is directed by Gus Van Sant and right away you can tell that there’s going to be a little quiet, and subtle indie-feel to this film, but since it’s not written by him, it doesn’t go in that direction it goes plenty of other places you wouldn’t expect.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon both wrote this screenplay, which actually won an Oscar, and it was their first script ever written! I like the script because there is a lot of great one-liners and quirks here that will have you laugh with this story and enough truth about life here as well that will open your eyes to a lot of what is being said here. My problem with this script and the film as well, is that it does get overly sentimental at times and gets too carried away with it’s dialogue.

It’s hard to describe but there are times here that a lot of the things that are said here, just feel like long speeches that just seem overlong and not needed. This is about over two hours and for that time limit I was entertained but I have to say that there were many times where some of this could have gotten knocked down, because there were just too many speeches that didn’t need to be used, mainly because they didn’t feel like it was actual conversation between these characters, it was more of just verbal diarrhea. But for a rookie job at writing a screenplay, these two kiddies do a great job of creating a story that keeps you glued in.

Many times with plenty of Van Sant’s films, I feel like his direction and style can sort of get in the way of his story, but here it’s different. He just lets the story tell itself off for once and provides beautiful images of Boston during the “falling leaf” season. Let’s not also forget to mention Elliot’s Smith’s amazing score/soundtrack that adds perfectly to the overall feel and nature of this film. If you’ve never heard of him before, watch this film and you’ll see why he’s a great musician.

The characters in this film are fleshed out so well here and the performances add a lot to that reason too. Matt Damon is perfect as Will, the troubled working class man who needs to address his creative genius and with almost every scene shows why he is the real reason why Will is so likable. Damon has that cocky and smart attitude that makes Will seem so witty but he also has that emotional depth within his acting that makes him so damn vulnerable as a character. Robin Williams won an Oscar for his performance as Sean and shows why he should just stick with dramatic roles. The scenes he has with Damon are just about perfect and fully add up to the whole drama effect that this film gives off. Ben Affleck is good as Wil’s best buddy, Chuckie, and Stellan Skarsgard ain’t that bad either as Will’s math professor at MIT, Lambeau. Minnie Driver is good here as Will’s main squeeze, Skylar, and although her accent isn’t that good, she’s still equally as likable as the rest of the dudes here.

Consensus: Some toning down was needed here and there, but Good Will Hunting is still an emotional and at times witty tale of being the best to your ability, anchored by great performances from the cast, as well as a great first-time script job from Damon and Affleck.



  1. When it comes to Gus Van Sant and his work, I often view this as his most accessible film. Yet, it’s not among my favorites though I do enjoy it. I will post my review of this sometime later this month or early next month when I do my Auteurs profile on him.

    • I like some of his films, other times, I just feel like he gets too weird with certain material. But almost everybody can watch this really.

  2. Saw this recently and it really made me want to get my ass in gear and fulfill my potential. I guess that’s what they were going for right?

  3. I still enjoy it, though not as much as I once did. I think perhaps that is a product of the film’s popularity being mimicked over the years. And yes, some toning down may have been needed at times.

  4. Love good will hunting, I think most of the credit should be given to matt damon and ben afflecks screenplay.

    For whatever reason, I don’t really remember the music at all, maybe cause I was so caught up with all the other stuff going on. My fav scenes are between robin williams and matt damon,where they sort of spill their guts.

    I agree with moviesnob, there have been a few imitations over the years, finding forrester was ok, not quite as powerful. And I havn’t yet got to Spring Forward (1999)

    • There are imitations but none of them can really measure up to this well-written film that knows what it’s doing but kind of gets out-of-hand with it’s little speeches.

  5. I’ve always been sort of fascinated with Minnie Driver’s cheeks. They’re kind of the same shape as those of a horse. But in a good way.

  6. Funny how movies appeal to you after a while. Just couldn’t stand this in college but shortly after this just kept getting better everytime I see it.

    Good point about WIlliams. His serious stuff far outshines his wacky stuff…these days anyway. Although I think the wold could have done without either One Hour Photo or Insomnia. The Final Cut was pretty good though.

  7. I watched the film when I was in college in a small independent cinema in a small town on Germany (thankfully not dubbed). Not only did I love the movie, but it had great importance from a psychological point of view which I was studying at the time. The dynamics of all the different relationships is simply wonderful.

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