Don't undermine your enjoyment of this one by picking on flaws and improbabilities: this is a fable, and we need not mess with fables.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Good Will Hunting" opens with a beguiling premise that is enhanced by a crackling script, terrific acting, and a rare, gentle spirit. Don't undermine your enjoyment of this one by picking on flaws and improbabilities: this is a fable, and we need not mess with fables.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a janitor in an M.I.T. science building where Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard of "Breaking the Waves") lectures his students with an ego born of his status as a renowned mathematician. The professor invites his students to solve excruciatingly difficult mathematical dilemmas, only to find that the solutions appear anonymously on the blackboard during the night.

The mystery genius is, of course, Will, the janitor. Professor Lambeau recognizes immediately that the boy's mind is that rare trick of nature that produces an Einstein. This sets up an ingenious double track for the movie: Lambeau's determination that the boy serve science versus Will's fear of facing up to his own brilliance.

Will is a good-looking, funny guy with a marvelous sense of himself and a fistful of friends who know he's different. If manual labor and evenings in the bar are not his destiny, they are the base camp where he can gather himself together to sort his choices in a world where he can do anything he chooses. Lambeau introduces Will to Sean (Robin Williams), an out-of-favor psychotherapist who joins the young man in his search.

Overwhelmed, Will returns after each session to his pals--Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Morgan (Casey Affleck), and Billy (Cole Hauser). These friendships reflect the sensibility we have been shown before by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, who are co-executive producers here. Kindness and loyalty run through the veins of their slackers. They are young men who hang out in bars not to get drunk, but to deepen their friendships. By now they have moved beyond hanging out to grappling with their abilities, limitations, and choices.

Minnie Driver, as Skylar, contributes an astonishing performance as the college girl who sees straight to the soul of the confused genius. Radiating a fiercely intelligent beauty, she shows Matt that humanity can exist in Cambridge as well as South Boston. Robin Williams gives his therapist a marvelous vulnerability and decency that makes him credible as a seeker. Gus Van Sant carefully directs the energies of his fine players toward a series of emotional high points. He makes sure we know these people well.

Stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have written a sharp script that delivers the high comedy of current conversational rhythms along with some mighty wisdom delivered in a few drop-dead monologues that scream, "Listen up, world, this is how it is." Throw a pretension in their path and these guys will write a monologue to puncture it. Damon, Affleck, Smith, Mosier, and their pals are giving us the pulse of their generation. If their honesty survives their inevitable success, we will probably be learning and laughing with them for years. Rejoice.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 500
Studio : Miramax
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h5m

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