Ben Affleck Month #4: Pearl Harbor, Good Will Hunting

Pearl Harbor

Ben Affleck’s career seem to take every turn possible for a movie star- he made a breakthrough through screenwriting, then made some memorable and not-so-memorable acting roles, and landed successfully into the chair of a movie director. Who would have thought that after his role in Pearl Harbor, a movie that is often described as one of the biggest cheats of the 21st century. Many people find it a bit distasteful to use one of the greatest tragedies in the history if the USA as a backdrop for the cheesy love story, but Michael Bay did not have a problem with it. One of the most controversial directors assembled talented cast including young Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett and managed to give them little to none on-screen chemistry. The story about Pearl Harbor is well-known, but not thanks to this movie. There is no background story, no motives behind the attack and it seems as Bay tends to explain every action taken by the either army as “Oh well, it’s war and things”. The script does not help either- dialogue is weak, it is a compliment to say that characters are underdeveloped and cheesy lines reign throughout the picture. The only thing that is good about “Pearl Harbor” is Bay’s trademark- explosions. Visual effects are really neatly done, and blasts seem very realistic, but it seems like a wasted opportunity not to join those effects with a story that event as Pearl Harbor deserves. Same goes for the acting, Affleck’s included.

Good Will Hunting

It was the year 1997. and two aspiring young actors were looking for a director to pitch their script about a young man who tries to find his way outside the cage his environment trapped him in, with the help of a widowed psychologist. They found a director who did not have much commercial success save underappreciated indie gem “My Own Private Idaho”. His name was Gus van Sant, and two young aspiring actors were Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Chances were slim, but together they managed to make one of the most influential coming-of-age movies ever called “Good Will Hunting”. The premise is familiar- brilliant, but an indifferent kid named Will Hunting (Matt Damon) works as a janitor at MIT at night, and solves some of the greatest math problems at night. When he is finally recognized, one of the professors at the university, played by Stellan Skarsgaard, seeks help from his friend, the psychologist Sean Maguire, brilliantly played by Robin Williams in a role that brought him an academy award, in order to help Will overcome his problems and embrace his gift. Sessions begin, and a whole lot of things is discovered on both sides of the couch. In this movie, Affleck plays Will’s lifelong friend Chuckie, who accepts Will, but is aware of his talent and how different they are, even though they appear same. Affleck gives strong supporting performance, and one of the most evoking moments comes near the end of the film, when for the first time in their lives, Chuckie and Will have an honest conversation. All in all, this film is one of the rare for which we can say that defined the genre and crushed some boundaries. Williams showed his talent for more serious roles, Damon and Affleck made their breakthrough, and Gus van Sant got well-deserved recognition.

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