Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

The movie Good Will Hunting is an emotionally powerful drama about a young math prodigy who has grown up on the wrong side of the tracks in South Boston. The script was begun as part of an assignment for a class Matt Damon was taking at Harvard. He came to his friend Ben Affleck and the two collaborated on this final piece that won them an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1997. Garnering 9 nominations the film also propelled the supremely gifted Robin Williams to his only Academy Award as Supporting Actor for his portrayal of therapist Dr. Sean Maguire. This is a wonderful and emotionally challenging film that takes on some very substantive issues of relationship and vulnerability.

I need to explain that this film is rated R due to extremely bad language. The coarse nature of the individuals and their upbringing lend to a culture of profanity that is prevalent throughout this film. The clip that I am providing cannot avoid them either, and there are 4 profanities that begin just about 3 minutes into the 4:17 clip. Please exercise caution when watching. I tried to find a censored version, but I was unable to find one that still carried the entire weight of the scene.

That being said, allow me to set the stage. Will Hunting is court mandated to therapy following an altercation with some bullies from his youth. Being supremely gifted and intelligent yet also streetwise and hardened he tears through one therapist after another, reducing them to tears and frustration as he uses his superior wit and intelligence to eviscerate them all. That is until he meets Sean. Dr. Sean Maguire is a broken man himself who is willing to see beyond the walls thrown up by Will. This scene takes place early in their relationship after Will truly gets under Sean’s skin in one of their initial sessions. Here’s the clip:

Getting beyond the surface to truly build relationship takes work. In a reminder of our in-service time together, we make judgments about people with a first impression based on the first 7 seconds of meeting someone. This impression can be difficult to overcome as we presume to know someone or categorize them based on our own past circumstances or prejudices. I don’t think I need to remind you of the danger this poses for us all. We are often too quick to judge someone worthy of our time, or perhaps threaten to cut off our attention from someone we deem unworthy. Perhaps this isn’t even a conscious decision, which makes it all the more important to be intentional in our relationships.

We are in a year of great change. Surrounded by new faces and rule testers, students and staff alike are desperately reaching out to see if we truly care about them.

I’m guessing that if you are reading this, you can immediately think of a person(s) that are incredibly challenging and hard to love. How many of them might not be a young ‘Will Hunting’ who desperately needs to be seen for who he/she is? I can think of countless examples of young people (and colleagues) who act out in an attempt to gain attention. Often they have been conditioned to recognize that negative behaviors get them the attention they desire, even as they despise doing what they know isn’t right.

Just as often however, are those who shut themselves off emotionally in an attempt to save themselves from the pain or hurt of relationship. We all put up walls and dare someone to breach them. Deep down we have a longing to be pursued or considered worthy of being seen. We are just too often scared to admit it because we don’t believe that we are worth pursuing.

But here’s the thing: You Are. When you can begin to grasp this truth for yourself, you can heal with those who are likewise hurting. You see while Will Hunting is the patient in this film, Sean also gains from the relationship. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness. It takes more strength and courage to be open and honest with another human being than I can express here. Know that you are surrounded by others who are every bit as scared as you are. They are worth pursuing and so are you.

Make a difference in someone’s life today by letting them know that they are truly seen for the valuable person they are.