Reviews ...

"Good Will Hunting" Bags a Winner.

... but the intellectual fires really burn up the scene.

By Morris Wattenberg

We all like to be first in line at the new movies. But are they worth a second look?  Check out a newish one like "Good Will Hunting," which bagged some credits when first out.

Why does a young man, Matt Damon, secretly mark up the chalk boards at M.I.T. and then melt into the throngs in the corridors?  What's working with his hieroglyphics? The math department learns that they have innovative answers to complex problems. The mystery grows as the disappearing chalker reveals new formulas before showing up in the streets as an active gang rumbler, finding release in tangling with the authorities.

These young punks are a lower-depths community rebelling against a world they never made, a sort of call of the wild, a resentment against formal society. But they see Will (Damon) as a kind of Clark Kent Superman.

Such a savant appeared in my school years, who worked through a professor's trigonometric equation that had taken 45 minutes in just three minutes, doing it his way. So the characterization of Good Will is credible.

An M.I.T. professor, confounded by Will's equations, attempts to saddle him and get him into academic pasture. A highly dramatic wrangle between psychologist Robin Williams and the M.I.T. professor, Stellam Skarsgaard, develops, a sort of "duel to the death" as each aims for the salvation of Matt Damon -- how to persuade the young genius of the justice of the.different pathways to intellectual virtue.

The movie is dominated, of course, by Damon's skills, giving life to the conflict, charging believably into the Valhalla of emotions. Williams and Skarsgaard are most impressive, with a notable mix of coolness and passion. It is Williams's role to win the contest for the brilliant young man's future.

Yes, there is a young woman in the offing, but the intellectual fires really burn up the scene.
    


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