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Good Will Hunting

Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams
Director: Gus Van Sant
Genre: Drama
Year: 1997
Rating: 5 / 5

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had both been around Hollywood for about five years by the time Good Will Hunting was released in December of 1997, but that did not stop critics from hailing the film as the two young stars' true arrival. The two actors took their own script, penned after growing up together in New England, and rode it to Oscar glory, nabbing a Best Original Screenplay Oscar and a Best Supporting Actor nod for co-star Robin Williams. In a year where Titanic dominated the Academy Awards and the box office, Good Will Hunting may have been the real movie of the year.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a twenty-year-old kid from Boston, working as a janitor at the prestigious technical college of M.I.T. In and out of foster homes his entire life, from one abusive relationship to another, Will has little in his life outside of the loyalty of his good friends Chucky (Ben Affleck), Morgan (Casey Affleck), and Billy (Cole Hauser). What he does have, though, is a sharp intellect and an unnerving ability the likes of which have never been seen before throughout the hallowed campus. For, despite his lowly upbringing, Will Hunting is a genius, and one whose potential seems to know no bounds.

All is not well with good Will Hunting, however. His tragic past has shaped the man he is, and, for all of his intellectual prowess, he is still a scared boy battling his own personal demons. He has spent the better part of his adolescence running from the law, and he neither asks for nor receives assistance from anyone. A professor at the university (Stellan Skarsgard) sees Will's vast potential, so he enlists the help of his old college roommate, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), to help puzzle through the enigma that is Will Hunting. Their clash of wills and the strength of their eventual friendship propel this film, making it a truly moving spectacle.

Director Gus Van Sant reached the national consciousness with this film, but scriptwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon should receive most of the credit. Some critics shunned Damon for top acting honors because they felt that he had tailored the role perfectly for himself. This logic robbed Damon of the recognition he so richly deserved for the role, even if he was properly recognized for his screenplay. Robin Williams was not overlooked, however, as he proves once and for all that he can stretch beyond his comic persona to deliver a powerful dramatic performance. Good Will Hunting is not the sort of movie that comes along every year, as it deftly combines a light, comic touch with a thoughtful, emotional story. That combination assures that it will remain near the top of this critic's list for years to come.

Matt Damon..........Will Hunting
Robin Williams..........Sean Maguire
Ben Affleck..........Chuckie
Minnie Driver..........Skylar
Stellan Skarsgard..........Gerald Lambeau

Certification: Rated R for language.
Running Time: 126 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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