Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 16 February 1998


Film Review by Jack Nichols


Still photographs of Matt Damon don't do him justice. Neither does the opening shot of him in this otherwise gripping film. He—the troubled genius—is portrayed as reading in solitude, his legs spread far apart in a kind of "come and get it" pose—one that's just a bit too butch to be believable.

In a couple of later shots, this macho swaggering of his may strike viewers as a little much. But as the film progresses, such quibbles as these disappear and are forgotten in appreciation for his handsomeness, his supurb acting, and especially for his story— the story of Will Hunting. This script—turned into art by Gus Van Sant-- is fully deserving of its "Best Original Screenplay" nomination, a script Matt Damon and his friend, Ben Affleck, wrote in unison.

These two young men have created a profoundly moving tale—punctuated with amazingly mature understandings of psychological developments in their peers. Seeing these two fellows—best friends—spark off each other in their story also ignites lusty pleasures in voyeur-viewers.

The story itself demonstrates that genius is no guarantor of success. Matt's character, Will, plays a janitor at the prestigious university, MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Environment/ Technology) where—when a math professor puts up a problem for students to solve—Will solves it effortlessly while nobody is looking.

When the professor catches him in the midst of another such solving, he sees in the boy's mathematical genius an ability akin to Einstein's. But then the professor must also find that genius isn't everything its cracked up to be.

Will has another life, one that involves running about with his gangly buddies and—often—getting in trouble. A "trouble" scene shows him jumping from an auto and deliberately starting a playground fight with neighborhood rivals.

The young genius then faces more squabbles with the law. The MIT professor begs a judge to put Will into his care—and goes about trying to find a therapist who'll talk regularly with the boy. Robin Williams, the therapist, enters. The homoerotic suggestion in shots of the older man and the young hunk weren't lost on the film's writers. In fact, though Williams is clearly heterosexually inclined, Will offers him an opportunity to swing on his twang.

In a TV interview, it was reported that Matt Damon's co-star and co-writer, Ben Affleck, jokingly made reference to NAMBLA because of the age difference between Williams and Damon.

This second friendship, that between the younger Will and his older therapist, grows to fruition. That the therapist has had less than a perfect life himself is part of the genius that graces this screenplay. Perfection in oneself, we learn, is hardly a necessary prerequisite for compassion--for helping others.

What caused appreciative smiles for this reviewer, however, was a timely expression that crossed Ben Affleck's face as he discovered that his best friend—Will Hunting-- was, perhaps, gone forever. This appreciative look reflects ample proof of a deepgoing love which can exist—as the film demonstrates—between young men who have no obligatory sexual ties one to the other. One simply wants what is best for the other.

Good Will Hunting has received 9 Academy Award nominations. It deserves every one of them.

© 1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission: eMail

GayToday Image Map