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Movie of The Day: Good Will Hunting (1997)

“Sometimes I wish I had never met you. Because then I could go to sleep at night not knowing there was someone like you out there.”
Set in Boston, Massachusetts, it tells the story of Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a troubled prodigy who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, despite the fact that his knowledge of and facility with higher mathematics far outstrips that of anyone in the university. Will must learn to overcome his deep fear of abandonment in order to learn how to trust and love the people who care about him. Good Will Hunting is the story of a young man and his struggle with both himself and personal relationships, trying to work through his problems so that he can open up to others, and begin putting his immeasurable intellectual potential to work.
Will, however, has no interest in pursuing a prestigious career in mathematics. He only reluctantly agrees to hold private lessons with the professor, being the only way to get out of jail after a spate of violence lands him there. Part of his parole deal, however, is to meet with a therapist twice a week. After getting a couple of shrinks to give up on him, Will finally lands with psychology teacher Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) who has a similar background as Wills', hailing from the same tough neighborhood in south Boston.
As Sean tries to get through to Will emotionally, the professor tries to train Will's mind in advanced mathematics. All the while, Will, who has had trouble maintaining a loving relationships due to his troubled past, begins to get seriously involved with a girl named Skylar (Minnie Driver). Meanwhile, the professor and the psychiatrist, who've had a rivalry of sorts back in their day, begin to quibble over what's best for Will's future.
Filled with great profound dialogs and intense emotional scenes, it's an immense emotional experience. It obviously has very 'heavy' subject-matter, and thus not an easy light watch, but it is very rewarding and entertains throughout. The most effective parts of "Good Will Hunting" show the conflict between two sets of parallel individuals: Will and Chuckie, and Professors Lambeau and Maguire. The intense and latent rivalry between the two academics describes a potential future for the two twenty-year-olds. Maguire consistently, at least on a superficial basis, searches for the default respect the MIT mathematician receives. Will, although reticent and clearly an outcast, seeks a similar form of respect, although not for his academic qualities, but for his social abilities. Throughout "Good Will Hunting," both pairs of spotlighted characters, after a series of enlightening "adventures," become comfortable with themselves. Despite this banal-sounding narrative flow, the execution is mostly interesting and often unpredictable.
Instead, of giving us a hokey feel good ending, Affleck and Damon offer something much more insightful and honest. Will recognizes that he must deal with lingering emotional problems before he can be satisfied and successful in any profession. The ending is only a recognition of the problem, not a solution. So instead of neatly wrapped up closure, Good Will Hunting ends with something much closer to real life. 9/10


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