3. Skylar’s Joke
In this scene, Skylar (Minnie Driver) has finally been allowed to hang out with Will and his friends at their local pub, and after listening to Chuckie’s terrible joke she uses her confident prowess to try and impress her new boyfriend’s entourage with a comical story of her own.
The scene builds as she is telling the story of an old married couple, Skylar using the moment to gain the approval of Will’s friends by turning it into a dirty joke which immediately makes them all laugh.
This is such a poignant moment for both Will and Skylar because, due to being an orphan and having no other family around him, Will’s friends are his surrogate family and thus their approval means a great deal to him. Skylar knows they come first, so to be welcomed by them as an equal, despite being a British student at Harvard and unlike anyone they’ve been friends with before, is a huge moment for her and for our investment in their relationship.
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2. “How do you like them apples?”
Will and his friends are spending their evening hanging out in a Harvard bar giving themselves a chance to brush with kids they have nothing in common with, purely for their own entertainment.
Earlier in the scene we see Chuckie trying to chat up some Harvard girls in his own cheeky, charming manner when a stuck up scholar tries to intersect the conversation and embarrass Chuckie in front of the girls, one of whom is Skylar.
Will steps in and, using his photographic memory, shuts down the conversation and threatens the “Michael Bolton look-a-like” with a fight outside. He soon backs off and leaves the guys to it.
As Skylar and her friend leave the bar, she approaches Will with some harmless flirting. With some self-assured confidence, she hands Will her number on a napkin. As they boys are leaving the bar, Will sees the stuck-up Harvard guy sitting in a local cafe. Will plants the napkin against the window and asks loudly (and proudly); “How do you like them apples?”.
It’s a huge moment of accomplishment for Will as he has outdone the Harvard student who believes that because he is gaining an Ivy League education, he is better than Will. It is a microcosm of a class debate that has gone on in Boston for years, and one that Will, Chuckie and his friends have spent their lives being victims of, making this moment a triumph not only of Will in a romantic sense, but of the friendship group in a wider sense.
1. “It’s not your fault.”
It wouldn’t be a list highlighting the greatest moments of Good Will Hunting without hearing Robin Williams say “It’s not your fault” 10 times whilst Matt Damon breaks down in an emotional outburst.
This scene empowers everything that is great about this Oscar winning film, its compassionate telling of two people who are polar opposites but share a commonality in the form of an abusive past is the reason it is still admired today.
Sean opens up to Will about his father’s abusive nature, how he would deliberately take the hits to protect his mother and younger sibling, whilst Will listens on to the all-too familiar memories. It’s a short but powerful conversation about survival and realisation.
When Sean starts to remind Will that the abuse he has experienced wasn’t down to his own doing, Will breaks down, as though he has needed someone to remind him that he is a victim and not guilty of anything. It is a profound moment that speaks to each of us in a way we can all relate to, and one that is sure to give you chills whether you’re watching this film for the first time or the one hundredth time.
Good Will Hunting remains, to this day, one of the all-time great cinematic dramas due to these powerful moments and has proven the launching point for the very public, life-long friendship between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who have since worked on multiple productions together.
Due to be released in 2021, Damon and Affleck will return to the writers’ chairs for the first time together since this release, this time for the Ridley Scott directed film The Last Duel.
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