Cast: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck

Director: Gus Van Sant

Screenplay: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

Running time: 2 hrs 6 mins

Genre: Dramas


Psychological dramas are fiddly beasts – either they end up too muddled for the common man, or harbinger of intellectual wonders that could pave ways to Oscar glory. Such was the case of GOOD WILL HUNTING, the shot-to-fame story of the 90’s, and inculcated any thick-skulled judge to concede to its gravitas. This, after all, is a film worthy of its praises. From its humble scriptwriting origins to its unpretentious direction and genuine performances, it seemed like the faerie tale story of the past decade by which two then unknown, unheard, unseen actors – namely Matt and Ben – who believed in the power of the pen and scribed a career-changing script that bolstered their names to what we now know as Damon and Affleck, two of Hollywood’s biggest man-stars. Accepting that Oscar for Best Original Screenplay must be memorable for them for the rest of their lives.

For these two fledgling writers writing about a tale of a local Bostonian bloke, realism is at its finest for they grew up in Boston themselves. The story is somewhat basic: a Harvard janitor solves the unanswered mathematical theories that riddled countless of Harvard professors. This reluctant genius is Will Hunting (a superb performance by Damon), and soon he realises about the important lessons in life, love, and choice. For a material that can be easily flooded with too much sentimentality, no-nonsense director Van Sant steers it all clear from drenched emotions, but rather gives us raw and straightforward humans in crises. In a scene where Will verbally pushes his girlfriend played by the lovely Minnie Driver, it’s a scene of pure performances by these two actors; him, psychotically disturbed by his past that he pushes people away from him before a sense of abandonment; her, fighting for what she believe in and holding on to it. As he receives sessions from a shrink, from a Psychology professor (the best performance you’ll ever see in Robin Williams, who won Best Supporting Actor nod for this), there’s a cinematic fire flaring in front of you. You’ll believe if you put two right actors on the screen together, they can both make wonders. See the scene where Will confront his demons, and the character of Robin Williams pours his pain – it’s amazingly moving.

Yet a cynic would certainly ask how a shoddy janitor could answer mathematical riddles in the level of the ancient Greek mathematicians, overshadowing the works of other great Harvard minds. That, however, is the film’s only falter. Plot device as that can be, this is a film about its characters and their complexity. And so is this film, complex and lingering: giving us that immortal lesson that academia is not everything. The real lessons we learn are in life itself.


Post debates may flare up whether geniuses are born not made, there’s no argument that this is a solid film of fine performances and confident direction. You’d wish Damon and Affleck would scribble more scripts. That Oscar is wonderfully deserved.