Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Good Will Hunting

by L.S.S

Tonight I watched, for the 10th -- or is it 20th? -- time Good Will Hunting.

I can't ever remember watching this movie with anyone else. Maybe I have. Tonight, though, will be remembered as the first time I watched Good Will Hunting with friends.

You have to appreciate this scene. I was sitting in the living room with a group of guys: most new acquaintances. Monday Night Football was on. I was soaking in the joy of watching two good teams battle it out in a close game. Bears v Packers, if that means anything to you. It didn't mean anything to my new acquaintances. Then, to my dismay, one of my new acquaintances suggested we dial up Good Will Hunting on NetFlix. This individual (who will remain nameless) doesn't have much appreciation for Monday Night Football. So, I played the servant, and agreed to watch, out of good will, but against my will, Good Will Hunting.

It wasn't long before I was enthralled. I felt like I was watching Monday Night Football. The whole experience was more like a sporting event than a movie. I was cheering. I was routing for Will. I was pointing out the best scenes as if they were spectacular plays. Few words were spoken, but a sense developed in the room that we were 'gelling' as friends -- the same sense that usually comes when a group of guys pull for the same team. Football fans -- you know that nervous feeling you get at the end of a game, when your team is ahead, but the opponent is driving, and about to score? That sense of nervousness? Well, one of my new acquaintances had never seen Good Will Hunting and, at various points in the movie, he was literally on the edge of his seat, nervous, unsure how things would go. The 'intense' scenes were so intense that, at one point, I actually suggested we turn the movie off and finish it later. It was really that intense. I wasn't sure if we could take it.

I forgot how intense this movie is. I dare you to find a (good) movie with more shouting matches. I dare you to find a movie with more painful relational dynamics. I dare you to find a movie where there are so many concurrent relationships that are genuine, combative, integral to plot, and -- this is the key -- ultimately redeemed.

Then, there's the ending. The film ties things up at the end in the best possible way. It gives a sense of hope without giving a neat resolution. We don't know what happens with Will and Skylar, for example. Still, the film ends with the promise of a reunion. The whole direction of the movie has shifted as Will rides to 'see about a girl.' The sun is (metaphorically speaking) starting to rise as the credits come up. Will rides, not into the sunset, but into the sunrise. As a friend once said of another movie, "It ended the way it needed to."

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