Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray)
In 1997, Miramax (which was run by The Weinsteins at the time) released a small film from indie director Gus Van Sant that was written by two then little known actors named Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Throw in an out of character dramatic performance from Robin Williams and you had a movie that on paper, had very little going for it. But as we now know, the film was a critical success, it launched the careers of Damon and Affleck, and received Oscars for their writing, along with a Best Supporting Actor statue for Mr. Williams. If not for the international sensation TITANIC, GOOD WILL HUNTING would have likely won Best Picture as well. But that was 14 years ago and so the question is; does the movie stand the test of time?
Wow, does it ever. I was a fan of the movie when it was released in ’97, but this time around I noticed what a magnificent film this really is. I found myself in tears as Will Hunting (Damon) was finally opening up to Dr. Maguire (Williams), a reaction I didn’t have the first time around. The film engrosses the audience so much that you don’t even realize how much you care about the characters until the emotionally climatic ending. This isn’t a story about a genius janitor that gets discovered by a MIT professor, this is a story about a lost, abused kid that finds someone to believe in him and that belief gives him the strength to be a better person. That’s powerful material and to think that two character actors wrote this incredible screenplay is amazing.
Both Damon and Affleck have received praise and awards for the script, but not enough attention has been given to their breakthrough performances. Matt Damon has proved since that he can carry his own film and portray complex emotions, but his turn as Will Hunting is arguably still his best work. The previously mentioned scene where he’s brought to tears by Dr. Maguire is sensational in how he delivered the lines. And although Affleck’s part is much, much smaller, he also does a nice job with what he has. It’s a powerful moment when he turns to Will and tells him he owes it to everyone to do something better with his life and that’s a key point in the film and one that Affleck delivers on. There really is no weakness when it comes to performances, but if there’s one that’s questionable, it comes from Minnie Driver, who didn’t do as much with the “break-up” scene with Damon as she could have. That scene should have been able to elicit more emotion from the audience than what it did and a stronger turn from Driver would have accomplished that.
If it has been a while since you last watched GOOD WILL HUNTING, or heaven forbid, you haven’t seen it yet, then I can’t recommend this film highly enough. Featuring some great performances from two actors that went on to become A-list mainstays and a career performance from Robin Williams, this is a film that stands up to repeat viewings and is a joy to watch, even 14 years after it first came out in theaters.
Video: A beautiful transfer that shows off every color of every leaf on the campus of MIT and every detail of South Boston.
Audio: Even though this film gets a 5.1 surround sound, it’s not really necessary for the most part, but does come through during appropriate scenes.
Commentary with Director Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck: Even though this was informational and entertaining, I wanted more. We’ve all seen the rapport between Affleck and Damon and that didn’t come through on this commentary as much as I would have liked. It just felt like they were holding back a bit. Still worth watching as this commentary is better than most.
Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Van Sant, Damon and Affleck (20:38): These were really fascinating to watch and some would have even been a welcome addition in the film. There is also an alternate opening which was entertaining.
Production Featurette (6: 39): This is pretty much a making of featurette and a weak one at that. It includes they typical cast and crew interviews and thoughts on the film.
Behind the Scenes (3:36): A very short clip of some scenes being filmed.
Academy Awards Pest Picture Montage (00:44): Short and seemingly pointless, but a nice flashback.
“Miss Misery” Music Video