by Victoria H
In a true rags-to-riches fairytale, two struggling actors decided to write their own breakout roles. And not only did it make them stars, but it won them an Oscar. Childhood friends, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were desperate to make it as actors so after many failed audition attempts, the pair decided they would write their own film and star in it themselves. This produced Good Will Hunting, one of my all-time favourite films.
Good Will Hunting is the tale of a disenfranchised and unmotivated young genius named Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. Working as a janitor at MIT, Hunting’s genius is discovered accidentally by a mathematics professor. In awe of his potential, this professor comes to Hunting’s aide when Hunting is arrested. The conditions of Hunting’s release are weekly math lessons with the professor and mandatory counselling. This sets up Hunting’s growth and journey to self-acceptance with his psychologist Sean Maguire, skillfully played by Robin Williams.
While the main plot of Good Will Hunting can be quite predictable at times it is the individual moments that make this film worth the hype. All the characters are allowed to have depth and complexity. Their interactions with one another seem natural and genuine. The highlights of this film though are the personal moments between Hunting and his psychologist. Both are rough around the edges and damaged but in one another they find hope and connection. As their sessions progress it becomes clear that they understand one another in a way most others never will.
It is Hunting’s genius that serves as the catalyst for Hunting’s character development yet his genius is not the defining feature of his character or the film. Like all of us, Hunting has depth and layers. There’s more to him than his mathematical brilliance. Moreover Hunting’s intellect is not the defining feature of the film. The film itself remains focused on Hunting’s personal struggles, which makes it relatable to the audience. We all may not be mathematical geniuses but we have all struggled with issues of self-worth and doubt. That is what makes this film relevant even today. It is the relatable struggle of a character with potential who continuously sabotages their own potential.
At its heart Good Will Hunting is a film about redemption and acceptance. Whether you have a genius IQ or not, your past can haunt and sabotage you as long as you let it. Its when you accept that past and look to the future that you can finally reach your full potential.
“How do you like them apples?” – Will Hunting