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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is only twenty years old, but already stands out in his rough, working-class neighbourhood in South Boston. Like his friends, he does menial jobs between stints at the local bar - and has run-ins with the law. Heís never been to college, except to scrub floors as a janitor at Bostonís famed MIT. Yet he can summon obscure historical references from a photographic memory, and almost instantly solve maths problems that frustrate Nobel Prize winning professors Ė attracting the attention of professor Lambeau (Skarsgard). The one thing this remarkably bright, impossibly angry young man canít do - after his latest bar fight - is talk his way out of a pending jail sentence. Lambeau comes to his rescue, anxious to unlock the young genius within the young rebel. He makes a deal with the court that keeps Will out of jail, if heíll let Lambeau tutor him. And one other thing: Will has to go to therapy. Lambeau calls on old friend, Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), a college professor-turned-therapist with an admiration for his emotional struggles, and a keen understanding of what itís like to fight your way through life. But nothing comes easily for any of them.

"Good Will Hunting is a beautifully executed film that exemplifies the art of story telling. Gus Van Sant delivers this inspiring, uplifting story with consummate skill and vision, showcasing an intelligent script by two talented script-writers. Damon, in a performance sure to establish him solidly as a major star, shows every sensitivity from the angry young man, to the hurt, vulnerable product of his past. He is disarmingly likeable, yet we can see through his complexities before the protective layers are exposed. Most of the emotional oomph emenates from the relationship between Damon and Williams; the development of this relationship is sensitively paced, allowing maximum anticipation to the evolution of trust that ultimately forms. Williams gives an extraordinarily moving, complex and restrained performance as the unconventional psychiatrist, while Minnie Driver is impressive as Skylar, the wealthy British gal with the down-to-earth personality. The scenes between Damon and Skylar exude an almost painful integrity, especially in a heartbreaking break-up scene, when neither character really understands what is happening. Damon and Effleckís script displays maturity, insight and perception, while establishing characters that are both real and endearing. Enjoyable minute by minute, Good Will Hunting has a rewarding emotional honesty, drawing the viewer compulsively from the outset, and ultimately shines as a charmer full of nuance, conviction and emotion sure to capture your heart."
Louise Keller

"One of the many joys of Good Will Hunting for me was the casting of Stellan Skarsgard as Lambeau; there is no reason for him to be Swedish at all, so it is purely a choice by Van Sant. Skarsgard is terrific, and being a Ďforeignerí, brings a nuance to his character, and added interest. But then Van Sant is nothing if not idiosinchractic: he also has English actress Minnie Driver in a major role. Again, it works perfectly. Van Santís direction of this unexpectedley wise script (unexpected from two young actors) is assured and sensitive. He lets the words drive the action, and the script is itself driven by a respect for human complexity. This is a very enjoyable and highly rewarding film."
Andrew L. Urban

"Good Will Hunting is a film with a genuine sense of purpose, passion and humanity. It was written by two long-standing friends determined, one assumes, in their youthful naivete, as their breakthrough in the film business. Passion for the material and an understanding of character resulted, some years later, in this movie. The two friends, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, are now up-and-coming stars, and Good Will Hunting is the toast of the town. Itís a stunning writing debut for these two talented artists who have created great characters embarking on a soul-searching journey of self-discovery. This is a film about second chances, about moving forward with your life and finding new meaning in a future not dictated to us by others, but by ourselves. In some ways, itís a story about the filmís writers, who have elected to choose a path fraught with insecurity, yet the film is unpretentious in its tone and style. Itís a simple tale told with insight, intelligence and wit, coupled with a degree of emotional richness. Robin Williams gives the kind of performance worthy of his talents, playing a brilliant psychologist clinging to a tragic past. Unlike his over-done, silly performance in Flubber, he has created a complex character, vividly communicating the pain of this character, as well as his dry sense of humour. Williams is superb here, aided by the meticulously controlled work of Damon; angry, tormented, funny and intelligent, Damon is hypnotic. Playing her first decent character in an American film is Britainís Minnie Driver, beautiful and emotive as the med student who falls for Will. Gus van Sant directs the boysí screenplay with fluidity and clarity, enhanced by some superb music and evocative camerawork. Apart from an overly simplistic conclusion, during which all loose ends are too neatly tied up, Good Will Hunting is an eloquent and emotional piece of cinema, an intelligent piece of story telling."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgard, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser

PRODUCER: Lawrence Bender

DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant

SCRIPT: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon (Story by Damon)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean Yves Escoffier

EDITOR: Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: Danny Elfman


RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes



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