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  • by David C. Terr

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    good will hunting movie posterTitle: Good Will Hunting

    Director: Gus Van Sant

    Starring: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver

    Release Date: Dec. 5, 1997

    Running Time: 126 min

    Genre: Drama


    Good Will Hunting is a thought-provoking film about a young genius orphan who works as a janitor and has serious emotional problems. With psychiatric help, by the end of the film he is much more able to cope with his difficulties and pursue a better life.

    Plot Summary

    • Introduction: Will Hunting (Damon) is a young orphan who works as a janitor at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One day he anonymously writes down the solution to an incredibly difficult math problem which Prof. Lambeau, the leading math professor at MIT had assigned to his students as a term challenge problem. When the professor asks the unknown solver to come forth, no one does. This leads Lambeau and his colleagues to write down a more difficult problem in the hope of catching the solver. Shortly thereafter, they catch Will working on the problem in his janitor uniform. They chase him away, but are quickly astonished to see that he'd written down the correct solution.
    • Therapy: Lambeau follows Will and finds him beating up on a man who'd picked on him in kindergarten. Will gets arrested and gets called to court. Lambeau arranges with the court that Will can be released under two conditions, that he must agree to work with him on advanced mathematics and that he get therapy. Will does exceptionally well with the math lessons but ends up driving away most of the therapists. Eventually Lambeau takes him to his old roommate, Dr. Sean Maguire (Williams). Will nearly drives him away as well, but Dr. Maguire agrees to keep helping him in any case.
    • Conclusion: Sean concludes that Will's defensiveness is a result of continued emotional child abuse from his many foster parents over the years. Eventually Sean starts getting through to Will. By the end of the movie, Will is finally able to move on with his life, no longer paralyzed by his insistance of avoiding pain.

    Social Relevance
    Good Will Hunting is one of two excellent movies which has come out in recent years based on the emotional problems of a mathematician, the other one being A Beautiful Mind (2001), a biographical sketch of the Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash. Being a mathematician myself who has also struggled with some severe emotional issues, I can relate to both of these movies quite well. Although Good Will Hunting is a fictional story, I see a lot of truth to it. Will hides in his world of genius in order to try to escape from the real world, which is too painful for him. Only after a great deal of intensive therapy is he finally able to come out of his defensive shell.

    Movie Clips

    Here's a great bar scene.

    Here's a funny scene.


    Here's a terrific scene in which Dr. Maguire begins to get through to Will.

    Here's a scene in which Will applies for a job with the NSA.

    In this scene, Prof. Lambeau and Dr. Maguire have an intense argument regarding Will.


    Here's a touching scene in therapy toward the end of the film.


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