Will Hunting is having a pretty routine day. He mops the floor at prestigious technical institution MIT while solving an impossible mathematical problem along the way. He then goes home to hang with his buddies, stopping off only to punch a policeman.
Facing a jail sentence for his latest run-in with the law, Will is forced to accept the patronage of Professor Lambeau (Skarsgard) - - the only person who recognises his true potential - - and agree to a course of therapy with the only person (Robin Williams) who can get through to him. Then, just as Will is facing the tough choice between academic fame and getting pissed down the local boozer, along comes his dream girl (Driver) to really complicate matters.
Good Will Hunting (aka Cinderella: The Boy Genius) makes for a preposterous pitch. Apparently, the story began life as a college creative writing assignment for Matt Damon, and the film is obviously centred around a young man's fantasy figure - - a lady-killing street fighter who has an answer for everything. Yet, remarkably, Damon (along with fellow Boston actor buddy Ben Affleck) has produced a script liberally stuffed with dazzle and wit.
Indie maverick Gus Van Sant chooses to shoot Good Will Hunting pretty straight, sensing that actors write well for actors, and is ultimately repaid with some A+ results. Williams turns in one of those restrained performances he is only able to do from behind a beard, the brothers Affleck are an absolute riot as beer-swilling Southies and Minnie Driver is as unaffected as her natural English accent.
But Hunting is undoubtedly Damon's film (he must owe Affleck big for taking the supporting role). His restless energy effectively forces the audience to embrace Will warts and all, - so that ultimately we really care what happens to the boy wonder.
Improbably, Good Will Hunting works. It succeeds in being both touching and funny, and if you enter the cinema with even the tiniest amount of good will, you're guaranteed to exit this movie with a whole lot more.
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