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  Good Will Hunting (1997)  
  Rating: (7.6/10) (5 votes)
 
   
General:
Directors: Gus Van Sant
   
Writers: Matt Damon
Ben Affleck
   
OMDB: 0133854
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Language: English
Duration: 126 min
   
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 Cast: (all known cast)

Robin Williams Sean Maguire
Matt Damon Will Hunting
Ben Affleck Chuckie Sullivan
Stellan Skarsgård Gerald Lambeau
Minnie Driver Skylar
Casey Affleck Morgan O'Mally
Cole Hauser Billy McBride
John Mighton Tom
Rachel Majorowski Krystyn
Colleen McCauley Cathy
Matt Mercier Barbershop Quartet #1
Ralph St. George Barbershop Quartet #2
Rob Lynds Barbershop Quartet #3
Dan Washington Barbershop Quartet #4
Alison Folland M.I.T. Student
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 Wikipedia: (detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)

Good Will Hunting

original film poster
IMDB Image:4of5.png 7.9/10 (75,156 votes)
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Written by Matt Damon
Ben Affleck
Starring Matt Damon
Robin Williams
Ben Affleck
Minnie Driver
Music by Danny Elfman
Elliott Smith
Cinematography Jean-Yves Escoffier
Editing by Pietro Scalia
Distributed by Miramax (USA)
Release date(s) December 5, 1997
Running time 126 min.
Language English
Budget $10,000,000
IMDb profile

Good Will Hunting is a 1997 film directed by Gus Van Sant, set in greater Boston, Massachusetts. It tells the story of Will Hunting, a troubled prodigy who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, despite the fact that his knowledge of and facility with higher mathematics, far outstrips that of anyone in the school, if not the country. Will must learn to let go of the past in order to move on with his life. Good Will Hunting is the story of a young man and his struggle with both himself and personal relationships, trying to work through his problems so that he can open up to others, and begin putting his immeasurable intellectual potential to work.

The movie was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The widely-spread rumor that Good Will Hunting was written by legendary screenwriter William Goldman was dismissed in Goldman's book Which Lie Did I Tell? as a joke that got out of hand.

It is often compared to J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, and some claim that it was written with a certain amount of influence from the novel [citation needed]. The protagonist of the movie also has notable similarities to Srinivasa Ramanujan (mentioned in the movie), George Dantzig, and arguably, William James Sidis.

The film is dedicated in memory of Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs (see movie credits).

[edit] Cast

[edit] Making the film

Good Will Hunting was directed and produced by Gus Van Sant in 1996. The exteriors of the movie were shot in the Greater Boston Area, including bar scenes reflecting parts of South Boston ("Southie"), although most of the movie was actually filmed in Toronto, with the University of Toronto filling in for MIT. The classroom scenes take place in McLennan Physical Laboratories and Central Technical School.

A number of well-known filmmakers considered directing the film, including Kevin Smith, Mel Gibson, Michael Mann, and Steven Soderbergh. However, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck loved Van Sant's direction in other movies, including Drugstore Cowboy, released in 1989, and persuaded distributor Miramax to hire Van Sant. The movie was shot in less than five months and was released in 1997. The cast engaged in considerable improvisation in rehearsals; Robin Williams, Casey Affleck and Minnie Driver each made significant contributions to their characters.

[edit] Story/plot details

Will Hunting and his therapist Sean Maguire upon first meeting.
Will Hunting and his therapist Sean Maguire upon first meeting.

Set in South Boston, Good Will Hunting is about Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man who immerses himself in books, drinking and friends to escape his anger and frustration stemming largely from his past experiences with abusive foster families. Will and his best friend, Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck), hang out together with their small group of friends in impoverished areas of Boston, drinking and occasionally fighting down in Southie. Will works menial jobs, hiding his incredible genius (such as a talent for memorizing facts and an intuitive ability to solve complex math equations), and his incredible knowledge of a dizzying array of subjects including law, psychology, history, and even art.

While Will is working as a janitor at MIT, Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medalist and combinatorialist, puts a difficult problem for his graduate class on a chalkboard in the hallway, hoping that someone may be able to solve it by the end of the term. Will, unable to resist a challenge, solves it overnight and secretly posts the answer the next day. This throws the classes and professors into confusion, wondering who could have solved the equation.

At some point during the next few days, Will meets Skylar (Minnie Driver) at a Harvard bar, and she gives him her phone number. Meanwhile, at MIT, Lambeau and the other professors decide to put up a much more complicated problem — one that had taken him and his colleagues two years to prove. Soon after they have put up this second problem, Lambeau and his assistant find Will, in his janitor's uniform, writing on the chalkboard. Lambeau (thinking Will is vandalizing the board) is incensed and chases Will away, but then returns to the board to find his astonished assistant staring at the correctly solved theorem.

While Lambeau is in the process of trying to track Will down, Will and his friends pick a fight. Will continues brutally beating a man who once picked on him in kindergarten, even as the police arrive and his friends escape. Will is arrested, and during his arrest hits a cop, which seems to guarantee that he will be facing jail time.

Lambeau meets with Will after the court hearing and lays out his options: Either he can go to jail, or he can be released under Lambeau's personal supervision, as per a deal that Lambeau worked out with the judge privately. The latter option comes with two conditions: Firstly, Will must work on advanced mathematics with Lambeau, and secondly, he must see a therapist.

Will does extremely well in the math sessions with Lambeau; however, he is averse to seeing a therapist, and quickly drives off several well known therapists whom Lambeau has arranged for him to see. On the verge of giving up, Lambeau takes Will to meet his former college roommate, a psychologist, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), who teaches at Bunker Hill Community College, to mostly uninterested, uninspired students.

After a difficult start (Will is still highly cynical and sarcastic, and nearly succeeds in driving Sean off in their first session until Sean gives Will some of the same treatment in the second session), Sean concludes that Will's defensiveness is the result of years of physical and emotional abuse, (as well as intense isolation), and that his hostile, sarcastic, and evasive behaviors and cynical attitude are all defense mechanisms. The two work together to break through Will's considerable barriers, using a certain type of psychotherapy, and to get at the heart of the problem, dealing with Will's complex emotions. The two begin to relate to each other more, with Sean telling Will about his past and his happiness with his now deceased wife, which makes an impression on Will, particularly how Sean gave up a pair of World Series Red Sox tickets to meet and spend time with a stranger in a bar who would later become his wife. This encourages Will to try to establish a deeper relationship with Skylar, whom he has gone on a few dates with after nearly having failed to ever call her.

At the same time, however, the well-intentioned Lambeau is attempting to push Will to excel in his direction, not seeing or perhaps not comprehending just how sensitive Will is, what a fragile stage he is in, and how he could snap in a second if pushed. Tensions eventually boil between Lambeau and Sean at a bar, resulting in a public argument that has Lambeau walking off. To make things worse, Will blows off several lucrative interviews that Lambeau has arranged for him, or in one case, sends his friend Chuckie in his place.

After he and Skylar have been involved for some time, she eventually asks Will to move to California with her, as she will begin medical school at Stanford University. Will panics at the thought of disrupting his life so greatly and shrinks from the emotional closeness that would be involved. He explodes, and begins yelling, revealing a great many things about his life to her, and the lies he told her. Will coldly walks out of her room while Skylar collapses in tears. Days later, after she leaves on a plane, he goes back to his normal habits.

Later at the professor's office, Lambeau chastises his protege for standing up the job interviews he had lined up for him. Will shrugs it off, which irks Lambeau. An angry Will tells Lambeau that the work the professor is giving him is so easy for him, it's a joke. He then sets fire to a proof he had done for Lambeau, which sends the professor running to put it out. Lambeau is hurt by Will's actions, and admits that he is incapable of doing the proof that Will considers "a joke" and carelessly burns. He seems envious of, and haunted by, the sheer magnitude of Will's ability; he tells Will that he wishes he had never met him, so he could sleep at night without the knowledge that someone like Will existed. At this, Will just walks away, shutting the door behind him. Lambeau, still kneeling on the ground by the burned proof, and still emotional, quietly says the other reason he wishes he'd never met Will: so he wouldn't have to watch Will throw it all away.

Next Will attends a job interview with the NSA, with the interviewer and a U.S. General promising him a bright future. At his next therapy session, Will discusses how he turned down the job offer as a way of avoiding misery. Sean however begins to see the flip side, perceiving that Will spends so much time and energy seeing all the things that can go wrong down the road in order to avoid pain, that he ends up paralyzed into complete inaction. Will chooses to remain in this state, which is often somewhat miserable, rather than take the risk of something new coming along to hurt him. Sean asks Will if he feels alone in the world and challenges him to name a single soul mate or person who challenges him and with whom Will has a meaningful relationship. The conversation continues and culminates with Sean asking Will a simple question about his future career, “What do you want to do?” Will responds that he wants to be a shepherd and tend to his sheep. Annoyed, Sean ends the session early which enrages Will who verbally attacks him. Sean calmly keeps asking Will what he wants to do and compellingly proves his point that Will has no answer to that question. Will leaves in a huff.

About a week later as Will is working at a construction site, he takes a break with his friend Chuckie. As the two split a six pack, Chuckie lets Will know how he feels about their situation. He tells him that Will, with his unparalleled intellectual abilities but working construction, is basically "sittin' on a winnin' lottery ticket," and too afraid to cash it in. Chuckie also bluntly admits (not without a trace of bitterness) that he, and any of their friends, would do anything to have what Will has, and he hates the fact that his friend is wasting his potential by living the same impoverished life. Chuckie says that his greatest hope is that one day when he goes to pick Will up for work in his car, he simply won't be there. Furthermore, if Will continues to spend his life living the same way, he is doing a disservice not just to himself but also to Chuckie, who wants to see him happy and successful. This throws Will's world into further turmoil and uncertainty.

Lambeau and Sean argue in Sean's office about Will's future, (which also becomes partially about longstanding issues and arguments between the two, as well as their different ways of looking at the world), when Will walks in, unintentionally breaking up the discussion. Lambeau walks off and Sean begins their therapy session. It is then that the two begin to have a discussion about childhood abuse, which they have both experienced firsthand as victims. Sean, very gently assures Will that "it's not your fault," prompting Will to immediately put up his defenses, first thinking of it as a joke and later becoming furious. Will eventually comes to tears and embraces Sean, shaking and apologizing.

At the end of the movie, upon reflecting on his options and current path in life, Will decides to take a risk. He has reconciled with Sean and they part as friends. Lambeau arrives at Sean's office to apologize but Sean lets him leave his apology unsaid. (Sean does the same with his own). As Lambeau sees his friend packing his bags, he asks where he's heading off to, of which Sean intends to travel the world. Sean tells Lambeau of an upcoming class reunion and tells Lambeau that he will buy him a drink at it. Lambeau responds that the drinks at the reunion are free, and Sean says he was being "ironical". The two decide to head out for a drink.

After he finds out that his friends, led by Chuckie, have built a car for him for his 21st birthday gift, (which a grateful Will calls "the ugliest fuckin' car I've ever seen"), Will decides to follow his heart and go to California to find Skylar, instead of continuing his life in Boston. Will casts aside the lucrative job opportunities that Lambeau had offered him, and puts his heart on the line, leaving it up to "fate", but not before dropping by Sean's apartment, who is still in the process of packing his things. As Will drives off, Sean finds a note in his mailbox from Will explaining what he was doing and using the line "I have to go see about a girl", the very same line that Sean told his friends when he first spotted his future wife across the room.

The next morning, Chuckie and his buddies drop by Will's apartment with Chuckie showing up at his doorstep, to find his friend gone. A smile forms on Chuckie's face as he walks back to his car, realizing his friend has finally left.

The movie ends with a scene of Will driving his car on the highway, headed to California.

[edit] Box office

Released in US: December 5, 1997 (limited), January 9, 1998 (wide)
Opening Weekend: $272,912 (limited), $10,261,471 (wide)
Studio: Miramax
Total US Gross: $138,433,435
Production Budget: $10,000,000
Rentals: $53,988,000
Worldwide Gross: $225,900,000

[edit] Reception

The reviews for Good Will Hunting were, for the most part, favorable and the film garnered many positive reviews. As well, many film critics appreciated the ideas the film explored. Of those who gave the film negative reviews, many objected to its coarse language and content. It has a 97% "Fresh" rating according to film review compilation website Rotten Tomatoes [1].

According to the box office reports, Good Will Hunting grossed an impressive $225 million internationally (twenty-two-and-a-half times the film's budget). Although the film's limited release at the end of 1997 (traditional for likely Oscar candidates) merely hinted at its future success, the film caught on thanks to good reviews and a strong reception by the American public. The film received international praise, in part due to the acting of Robin Williams and Matt Damon, both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for the film, with Williams winning.

According to many critics, Good Will Hunting provides key elements for the success of a movie: a heartfelt protagonist, a beautiful love interest, and comedic and philosophic one-liners that can apply to all types of audiences all across the world [citation needed].

[edit] Production information

Music
  • The Dandy Warhols song, "Boys Better" appears in this movie.
  • While Danny Elfman's score was nominated for an Oscar, only two cues appear on the film's soundtrack release.
Script
  • Ben Affleck and Matt Damon originally sold their spec script to Castle Rock Entertainment for $675,000 against $775,000 (another $100,000 when the film gets made if they remain the sole credited writers) pitched as: Young man in the rough and tumble streets of South Boston, who possesses a superior intelligence, is targeted by the FBI to become a G-Man. Castle Rock president Rob Reiner urged them to drop the thriller aspect and concentrate on Will's relationship with his psychiatrist. Reiner showed the script to screenwriter William Goldman who agreed with this assessment, and further suggested that Will's decision to follow Skylar to California could form the film's climax. However, the studios didn't want Affleck and Damon to play the leads, so the script was put into turnaround and bought by Miramax.
  • Casey Affleck (Morgan) completely changed the role of Morgan O'Mally, and made many adjustments, some on-the-spot. At one point, he wished to go outside in an enormous jacket which almost completely covered him; people were literally trying to take it off him, whereupon he broke free and ran out onto the set, making it onto the movie, dressed as he pleased.
Filming locations
  • The location of the footage during the closing credits is along the Massachusetts Turnpike in West Stockbridge, heading west towards the New York border, and, eventually, California. When the car passes under a bridge, the sign on the bridge shows that it is Pittsfield Road in West Stockbridge, which is also Route 41, and the scene is filmed in the westbound lanes because a sign announces the coming of a "Toll Plaza" east of the New York state border.

[edit] Trivia

  • Damon, Affleck and Van Sant all make cameo appearances in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Van Sant is portrayed as being too busy counting the piles of money from this movie to pay any attention to the fictional sequel "Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season," an apparent action flick in which Damon and Affleck have reprised their roles.

[edit] Soundtrack

  1. "Between the Bars" (Orchestral) - by Elliott Smith
  2. "As the Rain" - by Jeb Loy Nichols
  3. "Angeles" - by Elliott Smith
  4. "No Name #3" - by Elliott Smith
  5. "Fisherman's Blues" - by The Waterboys
  6. "Why Do I Lie?" - by Luscious Jackson
  7. "Will Hunting (Main Titles)" - by Danny Elfman & Steve Bartek
  8. "Between the Bars" - by Elliott Smith
  9. "Say Yes" - by Elliott Smith
  10. "Baker Street" - by Gerry Rafferty
  11. "Somebody's Baby" - by Andru Donalds
  12. "Boys Better" - by The Dandy Warhols
  13. "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" - by Al Green
  14. "Miss Misery" - by Elliott Smith
  15. "Weepy Donuts" - by Danny Elfman & Steve Bartek

The soundtrack for Good Will Hunting provides a simple and tuneful sound to the atmosphere of white, working-class Bostonians. The soundtrack mirrors the have-lived lives of many of the characters and depicts messages of doubt and unrequited love through a solemn, sensitive music style. The late Elliott Smith contributes the most to this soundtrack. Smith's "Miss Misery" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, but lost out to Celine Dion's Titanic theme, "My Heart Will Go On".

Danny Elfman's "Weepy Donuts" was used on NBC's Today Show on September 11, 2006 while Matt Lauer spoke during the opening credits.

[edit] Awards

[edit] Wins

[edit] Nominations

[edit] External links

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