In 1997, two relatively unknown actors kicked up a storm with their Oscar-winning script Good Will Hunting. A script that Matt Damon began working on as a Harvard student that he would later co-write with best friend Ben Affleck.
The story, originally a thriller, went through various re-writes before it settled on a narrative about Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a janitor at MIT whose remarkable gifts are brought to the attention of an ambitious college professor.
The real beauty in Damon and Affleck’s phenomenal script lays in the depiction of the conflicted relationship between the troubled Will and the grieving ex-therapist, Sean (Robin Williams). Now, the success of any film about character development and human relationships relies on two things: a good script and good actors. The script and acting in Good Will Hunting is not just good but stunning.
Robin Williams and Matt Damon each deliver career-best performances and as for the script, I am not exaggerating when I say it is phenomenal. Whilst it has received criticism for being overrated and some viewers will no doubt have that same opinion, the talent of the writers that is so beautifully displayed in the script is undeniable.
There are countless examples of the wit and intelligence of the writers. From Will mocking a pretentious Harvard student by claiming he could get his expensive education “for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library” to Williams’ iconic monologue.
It is also worth noting the romantic sub-plot between Will and Skylar (Minnie Driver). The chemistry between the actors expresses a wonderfully understated depiction of young love that is threatened by the torment of Will’s troubled past.
A moving story about overcoming loss, trauma and daring to reach your potential, Good Will Hunting remains Damon’s finest moment.