Good Will Hunting (1997) manages to develop the story of a janitor living a double life as a mathematical genius in a refreshingly open-ended manner. The story starts with a group of friends, the main two friends being Will Hunting (Matt Damon) and Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck). This is a tough group living in Boston, guys who spend their days working manual labor and their nights drinking on the town.
At MIT, the school where Will works at night, Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) presents a math problem and challenges his class to complete the proof of that problem by the end of the semester. When Will sees the problem while cleaning, he solves it in one night.
The professor discovers that it was Will who solved the problem, and the film shifts from a few friends who drink to a boy genius who is throwing his life away. Three characters make attempts to counsel Will: the difficult and pushy professor Lambeau, the love interest and fellow student Skylar (Minnie Driver), and the psychiatrist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).
Despite all of these efforts, the attempt that hits the viewers at home the hardest (and possibly Will Hunting) is when Chuckie Sullivan tells Will that he needs to move on. When his best friend tells Will that he is truly better than them, everyone can feel the necessity to move on. At one point in the movie, Chuckie gives Will a memorable lecture when he says, “Look – you’re my best friend, so don’t take this the wrong way. In twenty years, if you’re still livin’ here, comin’ over to my house to watch the Patriots games, still workin’ construction, I’ll fuckin’ kill you. That’s not a threat; now, that’s a fact. I’ll fuckin’ kill you.”
That is one of the memorable quotes that Chuckie uses to try to explain to Will the gift he has. Even as his best friend, he knows that Will does not belong in their group of guys. He has a gift and he needs to take advantage of it. Chuckie also tries to convey this point by saying, “Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out. We have a few drinks, and a few laughs, and it’s great. But you know what the best part of my day is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, ‘cause I think, maybe I’ll get up there and I’ll knock on the door and you won’t be there. No goodbye. No see you later. No nothing. You just left. I don’t know much, but I know that.”
Both of these statements hit you hard as a viewer. They make you wonder if you yourself would think the same thing for your best friends. If they were truly gifted and belonged in a different world, would you support them?
This story has a brutal honesty to it that people from boston (like myself) can really relate to. The screenplay written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck comes from a real place of honesty. Matt Damon touches a bit on the realness of this film in this interview, Matt Damon Interview.