Good Will Hunting ****
One Liner Review:
A fantastic and deep psychological movie about a disturbed young man who learns to accept and come to terms with his place in the world.
FULL LENGTH REVIEW AND ANALYSIS:
There are many great things about good will hunting, but there’s only one main reason why it is super smart and worthy of close analysis. That one reason is the story and sessions between matt Damon’s character, will, and his therapist, Sean (Robin Williams). Thirty minutes of the movie go by before we even meet Sean, and it’s an enjoyable thirty minutes of getting to know the characters and their lives and the events that would bring these two men together in the same room. But once Sean shows up on the screen, it suddenly becomes an amazing film.
The movie begins with a kind of kaleidoscope view, shattered imagery of different equations and things going on around will’s apartment. It’s a dragonfly perspective and we see it again, later on in the film when will discusses his abusive father, and we see the way will thinks about things, mixing in together a blend of images and feelings. Will’s perspective on life is all shattered and that’s what this opening view represents.
The credits sequence ends with a shot of Will sitting around in his small, studio apartment, lit by a single light bulb that hangs down without a cover. The light bulb represents his genius, and how this is where he does all of his work and deep thinking. It’s all played to the sound of a calming Danny Elfman opening track of some sweet flute music. Aside from will’s apartment on the inside, the sequence ends with best friend, chucky, (Ben Affleck), coming to pick will up and walking up the stairs to will’s door to get him. The two get in the car, drive off, and we head into the heart of Boston.
After some overhead shots of the city, we end up at M.I.T. (Massachusetts institute of technology), with professor Gerald Lambau (Stellan Skarsgard) running a class in a large lecture hall about theorems. He talks about a problem he has put on the blackboard hallway, and how he is challenging somebody to prove it. Then we move into the hallway and see will, the janitor, cleaning the floors and staring at the problem. The pieces are being set in motion for what will happen. Will is going to be the one to solve the problem. That will be the big event that really kick starts the movie. But where the film will go from there is anyone’s guess.
We spend some time with will and his friends at their local Southie bar, a place called the l street tavern, and watch as will takes off, leaving his friends early to go home and work on the problem. I love that their friend, Bill, (Cole Hauser), spends the entire scene with his head in his hands, leaning on the table as if he is in terrible shape, and nobody says anything to him. Nobody is checking up on him, asking him if he’s okay, because this must be a usual state of being for him. And it’s really funny that this is the way we are first introduced to his character, never actually seeing his face.
Following the bar scene, we go back to M.I.T. to see will doing his janitor job, cleaning the floors, and then putting down his buffer to go over to the problem on the board. He picks up the chalk and begins to work on it. Now, it’s still very early into the film and we haven’t heard much dialogue at all. Lambau has said a few lines and chucky has said a few lines, but for the most part, we are just watching will go back and forth between work and his friends. As soon as he leaves work again, he goes right back to his friends. Only this time they’re not at the bar.
Instead, he and chucky are at a batting cage with will do the pitching. This is a fun scene, mostly because the two guys aren’t actually using the machines of the range, but are pitching to each other by hand. Why go to a batting cage to do this, when you can do it on a baseball field? The simple reason is that they don’t have to bring their own equipment and that they are just messing around in a social environment. The scene ends with them play fighting with each other and shows the way these guys mess with each other and even challenge each other, over whether or not will is going to stop throwing so close to chucky. The scene is meant to show, among other things, that will does not back down from challenges. Instead he pursues them. It’s what we will learn he did with his foster father, later on, when the man put three weapons down on a table, and it’s also what will is doing with the professor’s challenge on the board at M.I.T.
Right now we’ve met will, seen the professor’s challenge, met will’s friends, and seen him take on the challenge. With the professor’s discovery in the next scene, the real mission of the movie begins. The professor is brought to the board by some of his students who don’t care that it’s the weekend. They tell him they can’t wait until Monday to see who solved the problem. I like that this movie establishes when the weekends are and lets us know. It reminds me of the film wonder boys, in that way, another college movie that tried to channel some of the same mentality as the graduate, (serene music around young people who are trying to figure out their lives), the same way that this movie does.
From the professor’s discovery, we move to a little league field where will and his friends sit around watching a game and commenting on some of the little kid players. This is a Boston movie, and baseball is always in the background. Whether it’s at the batting cage, at a little league game, or a story about the red sox that will later be told by Sean, it’s always there.
And the little league game turns into something more when will and his friends pursue one of the guys who were there and used to pick on will in kindergarten. This time, will and his boys run after the guy and his friends and have a big fight in the park. It’s the kind of scene that is a modern day take on the Jets and the Sharks of Westside Story, and like in that movie, it’s used to show the daily life of Will and his boys. They might not get into fights like this every day, but they have certainly been around the block before, so that all four of them in the car talk about it, before running out, as if they know what they have to do. They have to back their friend up.
Leading up to the fight, we started to get to know another one of will’s friends, Morgan (Casey Affleck), for the first time. Morgan is the comic relief among will and his friends. He’s the small, skinny guy who doesn’t quite fit in, and who they are always making fun of. When the boys leave the little league game, chucky messes around with Morgan over giving the guy his sandwich. And when it comes time for the fight, Morgan is the one who refuses to go until chucky has to threaten him. All of this is a little bit more than just comic relief. Morgan is the character who isn’t quite set into this world the same way the other guys (chucky and bill) are. At the end of the movie, after will is long gone, Morgan runs to the car and takes will’s seat, meaning that if anyone else can make it out of this world, it’s him.
By the end of the park fight scene, will is taken away by the police. All the other guys knew that when the police showed up, it was time to cut and run, but not will. He stayed on his guy, possibly thinking about all of the abusive father figures that used to beat him when he was a kid. The movie does take a moment to show us that this guy, carmine, who will is beating up, hasn’t changed and is still a douche bag, as he shouts curses at a girl walking by and smashes a bottle. And then will and his friends go and beat them up. When I think of this scene, it also brings to mind a little bit of the town, which Ben Affleck wrote, directed, and starred in, where he and his friend Jem (Jeremy Renner) went and beat up some guys who were harassing and threatening women. Affleck also wrote Good Will Hunting along with his buddy Damon, and clearly these guys believe in violence only if they can show that the guys who will be getting beat up are deserving of it, first.
After the fight scene, we get a couple of small scenes that lead up to professor Lambau discovering will. There’s Lambau seeing that nobody comes forward to take the credit for solving the problem in his class, and then will walking out of the jail where he was being held and getting in the car with chucky to talk about his arraignment date. We are getting closer and closer to the will-Lambau meeting. One scene of Lambau, one scene of wills be released and now heading to his job, and then we are set.
The scene happens with will in the hall, working on another problem. Only this time Lambau walks out and catches him from down at the other end of the hall. He tries to chase after will, only will is too smart for that and disappears through an unknown door, James bond style. And now we get the moment where Lambau walks up to the board and sees that the problem is correct.
Once we have that moment, with Lambau knowing that he’s got to pursue this kid, the movie makes the smart decision to take a break from the Lambau-will story. It is here that we are about to meet another major character in the story. Will and his friends go to a Harvard bar for the evening where will meets Skylar (Minnie driver) the woman who will be his love interest for this film. Only it’s not your usual, generic flirting and pick up line meeting scene. Instead, will has to defend his friend, chucky, to a scholarly bully, by using the biggest muscle he’s got…his brain. We see will jump into the middle of the conversation, cutting both chucky and the bully off, and start throwing historical ideas at the bully. What’s especially great is that he calls the bully out on everything that he is just recycling from other authors and trying to pass off as his own. This scene is so great, that years later, director Gus Van Sant (the same director who made this movie), repeats the same scene for his climax in the movie finding forester. Only there it doesn’t have nearly as much impact or originality as it does here.
What I love about this Harvard bar scene is that for the first time we actually get to see the genius of will hunt in practice. We are no longer just being told that he’s a genius; like we are whenever we learn that he has solved another of the professor’s chalkboard problems. There’s one more scene, later on in the movie, where will goes to a job interview and runs down a list of things that could happen if he takes the job and its another moment where the movie really shows us just how much of a genius will really is. All of this helps a lot because we don’t fell like the movie is trying to pull a fast one on us and pretend that will is a genius. By showing us exactly how smart he really is, his amazing intelligence becomes a lot more credible.
Will ends the bar scene by getting Skylar’s phone number and then being driven home by his friends. It’s morning now, and professor Lambau goes to pursue will at the buildings and grounds office. That’s where he finds out that the guy he’s looking for isn’t even a student at the institute. Professor Lambau gets directed to the prison where will is being held, but first we get to see will defend himself in a trial.
Like the scene at the bar and the scene of will taking on the job interviewers later on, this court room scene also shows how smart will is as he throws out all kinds of trial dates and verdicts throughout history. The judge recounts some of will’s prior trials and the results, including will cite verdicts from the 1700s. It’s so ridiculous that it’s funny, and it’s another chance for the movie to show how smart this guy is.
We are closing in on the meeting between will and the professor, but first we get to see will call Skylar. I love that the movie doesn’t shortchange us on anything. If it happens, then we get to see it. We get to see every moment in the will – Skylar relationship from the moment where he first meets her to the moment where he gets her number to the moment when he calls her for the first time. Other movies expect us to assume things happened and be okay with assuming that and give those movies the benefit of the doubt, but good will hunting doesn’t want that at all. It knows that if it’s going to maintain it’s credibility, and then it has to show us things and make us a part of the film.
Lambau meets will in the prison and convinces the boy to accept a deal that Lambau has made with the judge. The deal is that will can be released into Lambau’s custody so long as will agrees to meet Lambau to work on math problems, and will agrees to see a therapist. Will is okay with doing the math, but the therapy part he is adamantly against. Unfortunately for him, it’s not an option. And when faced with the alternative of spending the time in jail, will accept the professor’s proposal.
He goes to work with the professor in Lambau’s office and we see a moment where the professor pats will on the back of the head, that shows how much affection he has for this boy. It’s just a quick moment, but the professor’s teaching assistant, tom, giving a sort of look of disgust, follows it. Tom wishes the professor looked at him the same way he does at will. And any other movie would have fallen into a clichéd storyline from here where tom ends up sabotaging will or doing something to strike out against this boy out of jealousy. Not this movie. Good will hunting has too much else going on and easily side steps the mistakes that other movies with the same stepping-stones, might have made.
We see will go to two different therapists and insult and mess with them both. The scenes are comedic and they show that getting willed into therapy is not going to be especially smooth. With the first therapist, will plays with the guy, pretending he is actually opening up about his life, until he gets to the point where he can’t keep up the act any more. It’s the moment where the therapist tries to do the same music beats that will has just done, “boom, boom, boom,” and will can’t hold back his laughter. That’s when will calls the guy out on being gay. And for the next therapist, will laughs in the face of hypnosis and again pretends to be into it until he breaks out into song.
Now it’s time to bring in a fresh idea. Lambau has something in mind. He has a therapist who is anything but conventional and just might be the right guy to get will to open up. This is Sean, the robin William’s character, who used to be Lambau’s roommate back in the M.I.T. days. When we meet Sean, he is teaching a class at a community college to a bunch of deadbeats, and right away showing us just how different he is. “Nail them while they’re vulnerable.” he tells his students. Joking around of course.
We start cutting between Gerald and Sean sitting down for a talk and will and his friends at a sort of indoor carnival. That’s where bill and Morgan are wrestling around on one of that blow up balloon castle jump-jump things. This is the third scene so far that has shown will and his friends doing the kinds of things that kids do. They had the batting cage scene where they were pitching to each other instead of using the machine, the little league scene, where they were scouting out a fight instead of really watching the game, and then the carnival fair scene, where they were wrestling in the blow up castle instead of using it for what it was meant for. These scenes are all a lot of fun and they show that the guys make their own fun with whatever situations are around them.
And now we are ready for will to meet Sean. This is where the movie goes from good to great. Sean is the third therapist will is going to and he’s the one who is finally going to break the wall down and get through. The first scene where the guys meet each other is fantastic. Two guys from Southie, sizing each other up. I love the moments where they each ask each other question and don’t provide any answers. Will is spending the session looking over the office trying to take Sean apart. He’s looking for anything he can use, and starts with going after Sean’s books. When that doesn’t work, he dissects Sean’s painting and what the colors and imagery mean. He tries to say it means Sean screwed up by going into psychology, but Sean doesn’t bite. Then will finds the angle he’s looking for. Sean’s wife. He mentions her and sees that it hits a nerve. Sean tells will to watch it right there, only will has the opposite idea in mind. He pushes Sean even further until the therapist ends up grabbing will around the throat and threatening his life. And that’s how their first meeting ends.
Sean walks away from the meeting pretty messed up by it. I love that director Gus Van Sant takes us into Sean’s house to see the pile of dishes in the sink with an empty bottle of alcohol on top and Sean sitting at a table staring down at his drink. This is a character who is deep in thought, and I love movies that take the time to show us that. And we know exactly what he’s thinking about too, because the scene begins with a close-up on the painting that will has just taken apart with his analysis.
Will has come away as the winner from his first encounter with Sean. If the scene were a boxing match or a debate, than will has clearly won the first round. And so he has the confidence, coming off of that scene, to go out with Skylar. We watch their first date at a costume store and then a burger stand where they share their first kiss. Even this is unconventional, with the kiss not taking place at the end of the night, but in the middle of the meal instead.
The first act of the movie was really everything leading up to will’s meetings with Sean and the act has begun with that first meeting. Before this we got the scenes with the professor that led up to will and the therapist meeting and the scenes with will meeting and then calling Skylar, that will lead up to them dating. It is no coincidence that will doesn’t actually start dating Skylar until he starts seeing Sean. That’s because both of those two stories are about to run side by side, the same way that in the first act, the story of will and his friends was run side by side with the story of professor Lambau trying to find out who solved his problem.
For the second scene of will and Sean, they take the meeting outside. They go to the Charles River, and sit down in the park, and that’s where Sean takes will’s life apart. Now it’s his turn. He breaks will down telling the boy all of the things that he does not know about. Sure, he’s read a lot of books and can quote a lot from what other people say, but he’s got no experiences of his own. Sean doesn’t want to hear about things he can read in books. He wants to hear about will. He ends the session by saying, “your move, chief,” then getting up and walking away.
Now it’s will’s turn to deal with the ramifications of this confrontation. Just like the scene of Sean sitting in his home, drinking and pondering the way that will broke him down, now the shoe is on the other foot. Will does his construction work with chucky (he quit the janitor job after Lambau caught him on the chalk board), and then will goes out to the l street tavern. Only this time we don’t go into the bar. Instead we stay outside of it in the rain, as will tries to call Skylar. Only he can’t. He picks up the phone and rings her up the way he knows he should, only when she answers, he can’t speak.
There are two theories to all of this. The first is that it’s just what will would be doing anyway. This is what will do with girls. He goes out with them and has a great time, but then is afraid to pursue a relationship any further because of a fear of rejection. That theory is saying that we are still watching will in his usual life. The other theory is that this moment is a direct response to the way that Sean has just broken will down. This is the theory that I believe, because it means that the scene is a parallel comparison to the scene of Sean sitting at home staring at the glass on the table. Will stands in the rain calling Skylar and that rain pounds down on him hard. This is he in the dumps. He wants to call Skylar, so bad that he will get out of the car and go find a pay phone in the rain, only he can’t help but think about what Sean said to him, and now his confidence is broken.
Following the rainstorm sequence, (where Morgan is in the car, recycling a line from “White Men Can’t Jump” about mothers that is very funny), we get the third therapy scene between will and Sean, and neither one of them talks. They have both gotten to each other and broken each other and now they’re both pissed. They just sit there, staring at the clock, neither one saying a word. It’s a contest, and it’s cut with a quick scene of will outsmarting one of Lambau’s colleagues.
And when we get the fourth therapy scene, the one where we first start making progress. Sean is falling asleep and to will this is too much. He can’t sit here anymore if this guy is sleeping. So will starts telling a joke about a plane. Sean calls him out on the joke, asking if will has ever actually been on a plane, and will says no. In one of the previous therapy scenes, the one in the park, Sean told will, “you may have even been laid a few times.” now, back at the office, with Sean again calling will out on experiences, talking about the plane, will sees it as a chance to tell Sean about what he has done. “You know I have been laid before.”
That’s what gets the real conversation going. Will tells Sean about the date he went on with Skylar and Sean tells will about his wife and how she used to fart in her sleep. I know that therapists aren’t supposed to mention their personal lives to patients, but in this movie, it’s about trust. Will opens up to Sean and shares something and then Sean does the same in return. But aside from being about these guys sharing personal things with each other, it is the content of what they’re sharing that is important.
When will talks about Skylar and how he hasn’t called her yet, he tells Sean, “this girl is perfect right now, I don’t want to ruin that.” Sean responds with, “maybe you’re perfect right now, maybe you don’t want to ruin that.” this is another situation where there are two theories. Is will not calling Skylar because he doesn’t want to find out her imperfections, like he claims, or is it not about her at all, but about him? When Sean says that line about will being perfect, what he means is that if will doesn’t get rejected, then he stays perfect. And so will doesn’t want to put him in a situation where that can be ruined and where Skylar can reject him.
Sean’s story about his wife is more than just a scene of Sean opening up to will. It’s Sean telling will that there is no such thing as imperfections. He’s telling will that if the boy is really worried about Skylar being perfect, and then he should stop worrying. Anybody’s perfect, and Skylar isn’t either, but maybe she’s perfect for will. By the end of the scene, Sean is so willing to be vulnerable in front of will that he says about therapy, “ I teach the thing, I didn’t say I could do it.” and will starts brining up Sean’s wife by the end too, asking Sean if he ever thinks about getting remarried and how Sean should take a chance and see what else is out there. Clearly will and Sean’s situations are paralleling each other here with them both using the same line on each other, “that way you can go through your life and never really know anybody.”
This fourth therapy scene was real progress for both characters. For will, in particular, he comes out of it listening to Sean and going to see Skylar. Only this time it’s not a call, it’s him showing up at her dorm room, waiting outside until someone holds the door opened. He helps her complete a problem so that she can go out with him and they end up at the dog track with him telling lies about having twelve brothers. He likes her and wants to be with her, but he’s not ready to tell her about being an orphan and being abused. We’re also not really ready to hear the details about that either. It will come out later in the movie, but the script is smart enough to hold it off until the end and let the stakes build up.
From the Skylar date at the dog track scene, we are back with will and Sean in the office and there’s something really interesting to note here. Will asks Sean if he has any regrets and Sean asks if will means does he regret meeting his wife. Will immediately jumps at the accusation, saying that’s not what he meant. He knows how sensitive Sean is about his wife, and doesn’t want to offend the man. Boy have things changed since the first therapy scene, where will was trying to get to Sean and saying terrible things about the man’s wife. Now will respects Sean and it is shown by the way he is actually scared of mentioning the guy’s wife, or having Sean think that that’s what he means.
The two boys bond over a baseball story about the Boston Red Sox; only it’s more than just a baseball story. It’s a story about Sean meeting his wife and sacrificing tickets to an important game in order to stay at a bar and talk to her. It’s a fantastic scene that is cut with clips of the baseball game and even includes Sean running around the chairs of the office as if they are the bases, and yet it ends up being all about how Sean doesn’t have regret. Each therapy scene with Sean focuses in on a topic. The last scene was about imperfections and this one was about regret. And every one of these topics factors into will’s life with Skylar,
Things are going so well with the therapy sessions that will is ready to let Skylar meet his friends. It’s her who pursues it, telling him she won’t sleep with him again until he brings her out, and so he does. Will, Skylar, and the friends sit down for drinks and we get two jokes / stories that don’t really have to do with anything. They go to show us that Skylar is okay with sex jokes (she even tells one), and can fit in with the boys, but unlike the scenes with Sean, there is no double meaning. The movie is giving us a little break from that to just kick backs and enjoys some jokes. It helps keep the pace feeling fun.
By now, the second act of the movie is over. The first act was about the chalkboard problems and everything up to will meeting Sean. The second act was about Sean and will breaking through to each other. It was a struggle at first, but finally they found common ground and were able to open up. They even bonded over a baseball story. And now things are going great between will and Skylar. Like most movies, when things start to go great, it’s time to bring in a new problem. The first problem was about getting willed to be accepting of therapy and of his feelings. A new problem is on the horizon.
That problem is about will’s future. It’s about how he moves forward. The third act begins with Sean and Lambau sitting down at a bar to meet and discuss will. The professor wants will to start thinking about taking a job. Sean wants will to do whatever he wants to do. Whatever he feels is the right path for him. This is the first time in the movie where the professor and Sean are on opposite sides. There will be a scene coming up later on that takes this argument even further with the two men even yelling at each other and getting personal about each other’s lives. This first scene is meant to be the warning sign that there is trouble in paradise. It ends with Lambau telling Sean that will is right now at a meeting that Lambau has set up for him.
We cut to that meeting and see chucky taking will’s spot, pretending to be will, and having fun with the guys who are interviewing him. Chucky sits in a chair with his legs crossed, wearing a suit that clearly doesn’t fit him at all. That’s because it’s will’s suit. And chucky tells the men who are interviewing him that their position would be better if they gave him a retainer (some cash). So they cough together some cash and as he is taking it, chucky goes on a rant that cobbles up a bunch of big words and doesn’t make any sense at all. It ends up being the funniest scene in the movie, but it also shows that will is not interested in one of these jobs and in taking the interviews seriously.
From the problems between Sean and Lambau to the scene of will treating the interviews like a joke; we get will and Skylar sitting outside at a cafe in Harvard square. Everything seems great in that moment, to the point where she brings him back up and asks him to come to California with her. And that’s where the problems begin. First, he just tells her that he can’t. That frustrates her and so she talks about how he just wants to stay in his little world where everything is safe. Like a hot button word, when she talks about his world, he suddenly blows up.
Will now gets into how Skylar has money and will one day marry a rich guy who inherited money just like she did and talk to her friends about how she once went slumming to, with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. When she calls him out on being dishonest with her (his twelve brothers), he tries to leave, and when she tells him she wants to help him, he takes it as her looking at him like a pity case. That’s when he starts getting into the abuse that he’s had to deal with. The cigarettes and knives being put into him. The scene ends with him telling Skylar he doesn’t love her and leaving.
Things continue to plummet as will now goes to see the professor and tells him that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life sitting in a room explaining things to people. It gets so bad that will ends up setting fire to the paper that has his proof on it. There are other little things happening in this scene too, like the way that tom starts off the scene talking to will about how much the professor enjoys working with him, and then as soon as the professor walks in he says hi to only will and then asks tom to get the two of them coffee. But the heart of the scene is between will and the professor and how will doesn’t want to be there doing this with him. When the professor drops to his knees to put out the fire and save the proof, it is will who has reached a new low, putting the man in this position. This is the guy who got him out of prison and is trying to help him get a high paying job. Only Lambau never stops to ask if any of it is what will wants to do.
We’re moving towards the end here, and to help remind us of will’s friends as well as space out all of the job-work-therapy-girl stuff, we get a scene with will and his friends sitting around in Chuckie’s house as Morgan is upstairs masturbating into a baseball glove. The scene doesn’t exactly propel the story forward, but it’s good for a laugh and it helps provide us with a break from everything else that’s been going on.
By this point, will has angered the professor and Skylar, but he’s still got his friends and Sean. The scene with his friends is a quick one and doesn’t really take us anywhere new, but then we see will on a second interview (although this is the first one where it’s actually him showing up and not somebody in place of him), and how will turns the guys down with an elaborate explanation of what would happen if he came to work for them. This scene, just like the Harvard bar scene where he met Skylar for the first time, or the trial scene where will defended himself, really shows what a genius will is.
And it also transitions us nicely to a scene with Sean, where will starts by telling the story of what would happen to him to the guys interviewing him, but ends up finishing the story in Sean’s office as he repeats his ideas to his therapist. Only Sean’s tries to take it further. If this job isn’t right for will, then that’s fine. But Sean wants to know what will does want to do with himself. When will turn it all into a joke, about wanting to be a shepherd, Sean ends up kicking him out. But not before will throws it back at Sean, asking the guy why he doesn’t go out and try to meet someone new either. “Where’s your soul mate?” will shouts at him, before giving Sean a lecture on how some people get the same hand and then try again instead of giving up.
The act ends with will call Skylar and having this last chance to make it right before she leaves and blowing it. She even makes the move first, telling him that she loves him. Only he can’t say it back and just tells her to “take care.” she goes to the airport and he goes to the park to sit by the water. Things have now reached their lowest point. Will have gotten on the bad side of nearly everyone he knows. It’s been an upsetting third act, and it’s time to start figuring things out and working towards a resolution.
The final act begins with chucky and will on the job talking about Skylar. Will doesn’t want to listen to anyone. Not the professor, not Skylar, and not Sean. But maybe he’ll listen to chucky, who is like his brother. Will tells chucky about how lousy the jobs are that he’s interviewing for, and chucky tells will that he’s got something that none of the rest of them have. He’s got a winning lottery ticket and a way out of there. It’s one of the best speeches of the movie, maybe even the best one. It’s certainly Ben Affleck’s big scene. And by the end of it, chucky is telling will about how will owes it to him and the rest of these guys who can’t make it out, no matter how much they want to. He tells will that the best part of his day is when he walks up to will’s door and thinks that maybe his buddy has taken off and moved onto bigger and better things.
Sean and the professor now have their big climactic scene where they argue over will for the last time and nearly go after each other’s throats. Only this time it gets really personal with the professor thinking Sean is sacrificing will because he doesn’t want will to end up like the professor, and Sean thinking the opposite. The professor thinks that Sean has failed and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to will. It’s when they really start shouting that will walks in.
Sean’s got will’s file in his hands and the conversation turns into one about the abuse that will has gone through. This is where Sean and will swap stories about the abuse that they both had to deal with and when will tells his story, it’s the same guy as who was in Sean’s story only we see it through the kaleidoscope vision that opened the film. Maybe seeing it this way is meant to show us that this is where will’s life got all shattered. Or maybe it’s meant to show us that these abusive fathers are all the same and fracturing Sean’s image into ten different pieces just means that they, and many other people, all have to deal with the same thing.
Now it’s time for some reflection as we move toward the ending. Will’s last two conversations have meant the most to him. There was the one with chucky about how will owed it to other people to do something with his gift, and now the conversation with Sean about not letting his past get in the way of his future. From here, we get some powerful shots of will thinking. There’s one of him sitting in his apartment staring at that light bulb, which represents ideas. And then there’s one of him on the t train (Boston’s subway), staring out the window. There have been many scenes of will on this train throughout the movie, and in every one of them he is just sitting there, tired and bored, often laying back on the seats. But now for the first time, he is looking out the window, realizing that there is more out there. He has been awoken and so has his curiosity and drive.
We get the final farewell scene between will and Sean, where will tells of the job he accepted and Sean tells of how he’s going to put his cards back on the table and go traveling and see what’s out there. Will’s got the same idea; only it doesn’t come out until the next scene where his friends get him a car for his birthday. And while the car will be used for the way that will is able to go after Skylar, the movie justifies the friends giving it to him by saying that he is going to need a new car to get back and forth to his new job.
Sean and the professor have their makeup scene; as Sean is packing up his office, ready to go traveling. In this scene, for the first time, they don’t talk about the boy. That’s significant. He might be the reason why the two of them got back in touch with each other, but at this point their different views on will have caused such a rift in their friendship and treatment of each other, that they decide to put will aside and make it about their friendship instead. The scenes ends with them heading out to get a drink together.
The final scenes of the movie play out almost like a montage. Sean is packing up in his apartment while will stops off outside and brings a letter to the front door. Meanwhile, we cut too chucky and the guys going to pick will up, and will not being there. The smile that crosses Chucky’s face, when he realizes what this means, is pretty great. And that’s when Morgan gets out of the car and comes to take will’s seat in the front.
Then we get the very last moments of the movie, and they involve Sean reading will’s letter. We hear will’s voice over reading it out loud to us as he says he “had to go see about a girl.” this is Sean’s line from the baseball story, and Sean even calls it in this moment, saying “he stole my line.” then we see will’s car driving on the highway, headed away from the camera, and the credits starts rolling up. It’s an absolutely fantastic ending, both witty and deep.
The music that ends the movie is by Elliott Smith, who wrote a bunch of the songs in this film. They are all sad songs, even when they’re used over happy moments, like here at the end. And they help put us in a sort of trance while we’re watching the movie, making everything feel pretty deep. It’s the same technique that Simon and Garfunkel used when they wrote the music for The Graduate and that Zach Braff used with his music in garden state.
Good will hunting is a fantastic movie. It’s got so many relationships and dynamics and yet it uses these things mostly in the background as it tells the story of two men trying to figure out what to do with them. I love that will isn’t the only one who has changed by the end of the film, and that he and Sean have actually impacted each other. This movie won an Oscar for its screenplay and another one for robin Williams as the best supporting actor. Both awards were dead on the money. The writing here is fantastic and Williams has never been better. While there’s a lot that’s great about this movie, it is the scenes with Williams that really bring the film to a new level of excellence. This is one of the smartest and deepest psychological movies ever made.