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Some Movie Scenes Still Make Me Emotional
by Jon Schuller

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One of the many things I love about movies is their never-ending ability to make us remember places, people and events. How we can associate so many moments with a film. Within those movies are scenes – immortal, when you think about it – that we never forget, that we remember line-by-line and emotions-upon-emotions. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, when Scout first sees Boo Radley hiding inside her brother's room as he lies in bed after being attacked. I can feel my heart skip a beat every time I see it. The immortal cab scene in On the Waterfront with Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando always moves me. The final scene in The Professional as Jean Reno has to forcibly make Natalie Portman leave him alone so she can be safe. There are Burt Reynolds and Rachel Ward sitting on the floor of his childhood bedroom, in Sharkey's Machine, talking about his childhood and the kids playing just outside the window as they fall in love. Dennis Quaid portrays a real life Texas high school baseball coach who stops his truck late one night and starts pitching baseballs at an electronic speed limit sign in The Rookie. I see Robert De Niro, as young Vito Corleone, sitting with his wife and young children on a stoop in New York's Lower East Side in The Godfather, Part 2. Or, Alastair Sim, as Scrooge, dancing with his beautiful niece in A Christmas Carol (1951) always moves me. These scenes – and so many others – are emotional
and sensitive and I never get tired of watching every single minute of them. On December 5, 1997, a film premiered that would garner awards and praise from all over. It starred Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård and Minnie Driver. Filmed in Boston, Good Will Hunting has become another film on my personal "always makes me" list.

Young Will Hunting works as a janitor at MIT, hangs out with his closest best friends, Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Billy (Cole Hauser), and Morgan(Casey Affleck),drinking and playing at local bars. Will has met a beautiful British female student, named Skylar (Driver), who plans on going to medical school. His relationship with her grows rather tentatively. But he has a secret he doesn't share with anyone: he's a mathematical genius who likes to secretly solve complex math problems posted by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Skarsgård) in the halls where he works. Will almost gets caught by the professor solving an even more challenging problem and runs away. Will and his friends get into a fight and he is arrested. The professor watches and listens as Will defends himself in court and Lambeau gets the court to cancel jail time in exchange for Will getting counseling. Lambeau realizes this young man is exceptional and wants to save him. After several negative counseling sessions with a variety of specialists, Lambeau brings Will to an old college roommate, Dr. Sean
Maguire (Williams), a psychology teacher at Bunker Hill Community College. Will's defensive attitudes are slowly broken down by Sean's direct but compassionate guidance. The young genius tentatively allows Sean into his world.

Sean, too, has been internalizing many things over the years, especially how he's never fully recovered from his wife's death from cancer. He tries to make Will see that a relationship built on love and trust is stronger than anything else. Will's involvement with Skylar has been marred by his fear of revealing his true self. We see the two men becoming closer to each other and solving their own individual problems together.

As Will receives counseling, he continues to work part-time on construction projects with his close friend, Chuckie, who finally tells him one day that Will's been given a rare gift: the chance to leave Boston and become an independent man who doesn't have to drink beer, get drunk with his friends every night and do the same menial job every day of life. He tells Will that if Will is still there in 20 years he'll kill him.

Professor Lambeau has set up several interviews for Will at prestigious locations, like the NSA, due to his rare mathematical talents. But Will again returns to his earlier self, mocks the jobs and the interviewers and leaves. Skylar says she's leaving for medical school in California and wants Will to come with her. He says no. He again
lies about his past as she cannot understand his rejection. Sean has shown Will that every time someone gets close to him he rejects them and leaves. Will has pointed out that Sean, too, hasn't allowed anyone to get close since his wife's death.

Sean and Lambeau finally have a big argument about Will as Will walks in on them. Patient and counselor both reveal that each of them was abused as a child as Sean keeps telling Will "it's not your fault," over and over, until Will breaks down and a floodgate of tears opens. The two men hug each other desperately. Sean takes a sabbatical to travel the world and Will friends give him an old, but driveable car for his 21st birthday. He leaves Sean a note about looking for a girl as he hits the road with the final credits.

I never get tired of watching the "it's not your fault" scene. The two actors, Damon and Williams, make us believe that their own personal problems have been overcome as they become true friends, not doctor and patient anymore. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had written the original story. Good Will Hunting was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning Best Supporting Actor (Williams) and Best Screenplay (Damon and Affleck). It also was nominated for Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Watch it again. All of the actors are marvelous. You'll again realize how great were Robin Williams' acting talents and his boundless humor.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.

Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

Have You Been Spying On Me Lately? For How Long?

But Can She Act? That's What I Want to Know

They're Not the Same People They Used To Be

Time Does Fly When We Watch Movies

Before Minimum or Maximum, There Was Only Prison

All Columns

Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.

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