June 18, 2008

Short Cuts: "You're Just a Kid"

Good Will Hunting (1997). Directed by Gus Van Sant; written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Casey Affleck, and Cole Hauser.


  1. What a powerful scene. I keep forgetting that Gus Van Sant directed it, too. That's definitely his signature shot. :)

  2. Right, Joseph. It's one of the scenes that I always come back to from this movie. One of the things that impresses me to this day is thinking that Damon and Affleck were only 24 or 25 when they wrote this thing. They deservedly took home the Best Screenplay Oscar but I feel like the achievement of writing this has been overlooked since then. I would argue it's still possibly the best thing each of them has done to date...

    Regarding Van Sant, well there are a couple of ways to look at it. I would say keeping the camera on Robin Williams from that angle and for that long is typical of him, but when I think of a signature Van Sant shot I remember tracking shots from behind in Gerry, Elephant, and even Paranoid Park. But I'm not any kind of Van Sant expert.

    I just like this scene because it's such a turning point in the movie. You could pick a bunch of other great ones, too.

  3. It's not your fault. (repeat 5x)

  4. The screenplay really is the star of this film, though Gus Van Sant's direction is quite strong as well.

  5. DAMN...

    I love that. Just BEAUTIFULLY acted by Mr. Williams. I still maintain that THAT was the scene that won him the Oscar. Well, that and his substantial popularity.

    (Unless, of course, it was the bit at the end. "That sonofabitch. He stole my line.")

    I adored GWH back in the day. Saw it four times. It hasn't aged for me as well as some (I guess I'm long over it) but it's still a substantial achievement in many respects. That scene illustrates why.


  6. Not bad, Fletch, but the flip-out scenes (like that one and the one with him and Minnie in her bedroom) really don't do as much for me. I prefer the simple ones between Damon and Williams and Williams and Skarsgard.

    It's true, Alexander, and that may be overlooked from time to time as well. He's definitely gone more the arthouse/indie route in recent years, but he can do something with stars if they're at his disposal.

    I know a lot of people have problems with it, but when it comes right down to it, Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies. I can watch it any time, I've always liked Damon, I went to college in Boston (you can actually see my old apartment in the Fenway shot), and I think it's funny, timeless, and relevant. Everybody can relate to at least one of those characters at some point in their lives.

    Miranda, my thoughts exactly. I'm not going to call Robin Williams the greatest actor of his generation or anything, but he can do dramatic material with aplomb. Too bad he doesn't often enough.

  7. Miranda stole my comment.


    I was "just a kid" when this thing came out... like 18... I had no idea what great film was back then. Definitely warrants a re-watch.

  8. Sorry, nayana.

    That was definitely not intentional on my part.

    Wish I had known...

  9. See it again soon, Nayana. I have yet find any part of it that isn't still relevant. And great.

  10. You know, I'm glad you put that up. Like others know, this is the best scene in the film, the one that got Williams his Oscar, which he deserved for nailing this eloquent, truthful total fucking ream on Will. I also forgive Williams for other poor films because of this one moment (and for POPEYE). And it's the writing here that makes me think Damon and Affleck deserved their nomination.

    And after seeing PARANOID PARK recently, I'm glad Zant is still doing good work. As for GWH, it was smart to have such a fringe director do something that could have been mawkish in other Hollywood hands.

  11. Great points, Christian. Yep, this scene fully justifies both Oscars this movie won. And I love that Damon wrote rants like this knowing full well that he would be acting on the receiving end. Of course he gave himself some pretty good ones, too.

    Before Joseph mentioned Van Sant in the first comment, I don't think I ever fully thought about how it would have been with someone else. This scene could have been ruined by lots of editing and music and wide shots and everything. I've noticed in the few times that I've seen this clip that the camera just sits on Williams in a tight frame for almost three full minutes. Awesome.


    It's true.

    After devouring Paranoid Park for the thousandth time the other night, I went out and bought which ever Van Sant films I did not already own, and I could not be happier :)

  13. Really, Nick? I actually didn't know that particular fact. Knew you were a fan, didn't know at that level.

    Who knows, maybe you'll be writing a film he directs he in a few years...

  14. That would be a dream come true.

    And if I use his homoerotic fascination with young men to my advantage, perhaps that dream would come true all that sooner...

  15. Ha, well you do whatever you think you need to do, but I think your excellent writing alone would probably suffice.

  16. The doctor teaches the kid a thing or two about life, and the kid teaches the doctor a thing or two about love.

    Oh, I dislike this movie. Sorry, Daniel.

  17. "The doctor teaches the kid a thing or two about life, and the kid teaches the doctor a thing or two about love." and the doctor teaches the other doctor a thing or two about friendship, and the kid teaches the other kid a thing or two about loyalty, and...

    Hehe, yeah, I know, it's loaded with teaching and lessons and learning and all, but I believed them for the most part, and I appreciated that it was at least a lot more watchable than some other message movies.

    Besides - the jokes? The accents? Their writing age? Nothing?

    Oh, alright. I'm fine with you disliking this one if I can dislike...oh, I don't know...maybe American Beauty.


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