"Good Will Hunting," Gus Van Sant, Film Review
A series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.
For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
This is a dishonest film. It's not even slightly credible how Matt Daman's character can do his construction work, drinking, brawling etc, and have book learning across maths, Marxist history, organic chemistry, etc. He may be intelligent, but this is not how very intelligent, socially held-back people show their intelligence.
Similarly, Robin Williams's shrink is conveniently able to chief out Daman's character with his bench press weights, he can get him in a throat grip and has been abused himself. It's too much to expect us to believe any of this.
It's just about plausible how Daman's character rejects relationships and opportunities before they have a chance to disappoint him back – but this is laid on too thick.
The manly speech from Ben Affleck on how he wants him to just disappear is ridiculous – much better was the man-to-man talk over the yellow cab in Taxi Driver.
They mention a real-life case of an Indian who sees a maths books, develops, theorems, and comes to Cambridge. Now that would have been the honest film to have made. It's so often the case that real life provides the honesty and integrity that fiction lacks – which is not to say that fiction can't build on those real life cases, of course, but just making up all this rubbish does no one any favours. If you want to make a life-affirming film, you have to make the characters credible, else it means nothing.
Personal Score: 3/10