By Julie Denice Griffin
Exploring the possibilities of genious makes an interesting holiday study. A young man born to parents who do not love or care about or want him, abandoned by both parents – Lives for years as an unadopted orphan. He survives several abusive foster homes, one foster-father stabs him and that requires surgery, while another uses his body to extinguish lit cigarettes. This article highlights a film about a boy genious by Gus Van Sant.
The story begins with a reward and an offer of great recognition to the student who can figure out the mathematical formula to cure a flu virus. They get a mention in M.I.T. Tech among other perks for starters. Strangely enough, the shy, quiet janitor boy looks over the formula, and after only a few minutes goes home. After hearing his friend’s under an Irish curse and using lipstick on a mirror, he figures out the answer.
He writes it later on the school chalk board in the hall of the college – And the astonished professor can’t figure out who figured it out. All of his paying students decline. At one point of the story, toward the end of the film, the young Will discovers that his bad, abusive past life through therapy – The heavy burden of guilt lay on the oppressor, perpetrators and not on him. He is forgiven and relieved of all responsibility for all of the unwanted abused forced on him.
Living in a difficult neighborhood in Boston as a southy, one day finds him arrested for defending himself from some bad boys. At the Municipal Court of the South Boston District – At the same time, the professor throws down the guantlet for a new academic prize. One evening, the professor catches the janitor boy in the act of placing the answer on the chalkboard. He chases him and accuses him of messing with other people’s work when it is the boy’s work, secretly and all along. His colleague immediately informs him that the answer’s right. The professor does an about-turn and immediately figures out that the janitor boy is a genious.
In the meantime, the boy’s friends make fun of him for pushing a broom around for a living. He puts a senior college boy to shame when the man insults his friend for not knowing enough history. Will shows up and quotes famous historical incidents complete with names, dates and historical theory. The man cannot keep up with him, and Will advises him to spend more time in the library reading. Will and not his friend however, end up impressing the Harvard bound female medical student. Later he asks the man if he likes apples. The man nods through a glass diner window. Already in hot pursuit of another college girl, and Will displays her phone number proving he got the girl and not the other man. Well, he tells him, then how do you like these apples?
Will Hunting, released to the professor when he gets into a bit of trouble to study math, and attend college – Will explains to the first pyschiatrist his fascination with nightclubs and the vibration of music sounds. He councils the psychiatrist, getting to the bottom of the therapist’s dilemna in a matter of minutes, that he merely needs to relax more. That and come to terms with his gayness and be more accepting of himself in that state. The next psychiatrist quits even quicker than the last one after Will pretends a hypnotic state. He tells the psychiatrist he sees someone dark in his bedroom. Then he infuriates the man completely by breaking out in a chorus of Afternoon Delight.
The professor runs to Robin Williams as a last therapeutic resort for the boy. Breaking into his classroom as he’s teaching, “Trust is life,” Williams greets his old alumni introducing him to his class as someone prestigious. Williams chose marriage to his college sweetheart and a college teaching career at a more enjoyable and relaxed college over prestige and big money. Later on the two come to a point of rivalry over life choices, values and money, prestige and other intrinsics.
Matt Damon, who plays the professor tutor of Will, the twenty-year old genious – Finds himself more of a student to Will who tells him that figuring out mathematical formulas is easy for him. Robin Williams plays the therapist who is finally able to break through to Will and find out what went wrong in his life development. He also uncovers the atrocious abuse Will suffered and gets to the bottom of that. Will in the meantime manages to fall in love with Skylar, Minnie Driver and lies to her and himself about that.
The professor continues to claim that Will is an Einstein and a rare mathematical genious. But Will figures out what is at the bottom of his beloved psychiatrist’s problem, Robbin Williams mourning the death of his wife who died from cancer – Takes a liking to the young man and takes him under his wing as a son. He helps Will to find out what he really wants out of life. And in a sense, he takes this professor’s once same life path. The two with a common background of southies help to therapize eachother. The boy who spent hours at bars trying to find a sense of love, finds out that where love really exists is in a few precious human relationships. The therapist and the psychology professor tells him, “Then we get to choose who we let into our weird little worlds.”
At Room 206 – Boy and girl meet. He brings her a proton formula so she can save time and go out on a date to the dog races with him. Because of mathematical genious, she wins her race bet. And also gets to know Will a little better. She laudes his Irish-Catholic background. He tells her she wouldn’t believe him if he told her who all of his brothers are. But it seems like he means foster brothers. His twelve brothers can be taken one way or the other. “Men are shameless,” she tells him when he keeps beating around the bush about letting her meet his southy friends and brothers.
In the meantime, the professor keeps going on about the boy being another Jonas Salk. Williams argues against, saying that although the boy is a genious that he thinks he needs to have some kind of a life. Never really suspecting that he’ll actually take the plunge, the mentor math professor assures Williams that he is not selfish for wanting the boy to succeed. He claims he is nothing mathematically or otherwise compared to Will. He also uses as a point of his argument that a 26-year old pageant clerk changed the world, referring to Will’s job position as janitor.
“Why don’t we give the boy time to figure out what he wants,” suggests Professor Shawn (Robin Williams). “Do you have a photographic memory,” She asks. He studied organic chemistry for fun. Even smart people at Harvard College have to study harder than you she tells him. Beethoven, he tells her looked at the piano and figured out how to play just by looking. “That’s the best I can explain.” “It’s not fair,” she tells him. “I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve only just found you.”
A lot of choices and dilemna is faced in this film. The movie points to finding out what you want to do in life and shows the possibilities to college students rather than making the decisions for them. Will’s choice is not everyone’s choice. Will, who survived a horrible upbringing by and damaged as if forever by a few bad foster parents finds out that he has been blessed to find out what he can be.
The professor grieves about not wanting to see Will just throw his life and his talents away. Still, in the end Will mysteriously turns down work with the N.S.A., National Security Agency – Saying that advanced alga rhythm work (code breaking) goes against his morals. He predicts to the man the odds of the ratio of what could go wrong when a military attack is launched against for example a small tribe of innocent Africans because one evil person made plans to attack another innocent country. “What if 1,500 people I never met in a small African village get killed?” because of him he asks. Relying on the dead men like Shakespeare he reads about for companionship, Will’s world is bright and not dark for these times. He tells his therapist though that he did not request his brilliance. “I didn’t ask for this.” “You were born with it,” Professor Shawn assures him.