Bottom Line: Premise and Williams are great, but the rest is a disappointment.
“I got her number. How do ya like them apples?” –Matt Damon as Will Hunting
Directed by: Gus van Sant
Starring: Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Richard Fitzpatrick, Robin Williams, Scott William Winters, Stellan Skarsgard
Unambitious saga follows Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a janitor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though this is a small job he has, Will possesses an incredible knowledge and an impressive skill for mathematics. Also, he seems to not care about the fact that he is wasting such talent and instead working as a custodian. Noticing this, the man whom he works for hires a psychologist, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), to assist him in giving his life a direction.
There’s something suspicious about the story here. It’s quite ironic that the film itself is easily comparable to its lead character. Its script often seems to keep running on and on, similar to how Damon’s character speaks quickly in his sentences of interminable length; it doesn’t seem to care what its own outcome is; and, worst of all, it doesn’t seem to be moving in any specific direction. For quite a long time, the film consists of talky, in-depth explanations of the characters it details. Each character seemed to be studied to a certain depth, with Williams’s and Damon’s characters being expounded upon greatly. It takes at least forty-five minutes for the premise to be officially established, where we first see Dr. Maguire start to work with Will. After that, the film spends its precious time trying to explain upon this premise, but the pacing is so slow that it ends up going a very short distance.
Perhaps the greatest relief GOOD WILL HUNTING had to offer was Williams’s performance. Watching him break away from his comedic comfort zone is like listening to Afrika Bambaataa try to yodel. What’s even more odd (and impressive), he succeeds enormously. If there is one performance that makes this film watchable, it’s that from Robin Williams. I’ll include mention that this opened up the careers of other recognizable names such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Those two are impressive in their acting roles, but Williams is the one that seems to shine.
Other than that one performance, this film was a major disappointment. One would think that because of such a marvelous plot, the film would excel. Unfortunately, that plot must have been too ambitious for screenwriters Damon and Affleck, and director Van Sant, to handle. The film takes such precious time trying to craft the story into dialogue and actions, that once the standard two-hour length has been reached, it seems to be scrambling to find an even spot to end at. At least a good conclusion was chosen for this underwhelming tale.