Good Will Hunting (1997) Ending Explained – What is the significance of Sean telling Will “It’s not your fault”?

Good Will Hunting Plot Summary

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had been on the scene for a few years by the time Good Will Hunting released in 1997. Yet, you could still make the case that they were still struggling actors, only appearing in supporting roles. But their Oscar win for writing the screenplay for this movie solidified them as Hollywood royalty for years to come.

The film centers on a down-in-the dirt south Boston street kid called Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. He’s a young man who optimizes the city of Boston. One part of him sees the guy as a working-class, rough around the edges ruffian who drinks to much. The other part, sees him highly intellectual and a math genius. As a matter of fact, his mathematical knowledge rivals that of Einstein, it seems. But his life is loaded with trauma. 

What happened to Will growing up? When does he get his “call to action”?

Will was a foster kid who went from home to home growing up. He was beaten by father figures, and all he trusts are a group of fellow South Boston schmucks, one of which played by his real-life best friend Ben Affleck. When he’s not at the bars every night, he’s at home, breezing through novel after novel, and writing mathematical proofs on his bathroom mirror.

During the day, Will mops floors at MIT, where he stumbles across some difficult proofs to solve on the chalkboard in the hall. What is an extremely complex thing to solve for most of the students is just another Tuesday for Will. Once the professor of the class catches him in the act, it’s time for Will to stop hiding his true potential.

Who Does Robin Williams play in Good Will Hunting?

Robin Williams’ performance in Good Will Hunting may be the best performance of his career. The Oscars seemed to have agreed, awarding him Best Supporting Actor that year for his efforts. Within the film, Williams plays Sean Maguire, a community college professor who also becomes a therapist for Will. The two have a lot in common.

They both grew up in south Boston, and they both have the same stubborn attitude. In their initial meeting, they clash due to Will’s arrogant attitude after ploughing through therapists who couldn’t work with him. But the two are a match made in heaven in regards to doctor and patient.

What happens when Sean opens up to Will?

By the middle of the film, Will opens up to Sean about a girl he is dating, Skylar (Minnie Driver). Sean then talks about how he met his now-deceased wife. Sean tells the story that took place on October 21st, 1975. It was game 6 of the World Series. At the time, it was the biggest game in the Red Sox’s history.

The story starts with Sean talking about how he and his friends have tickets to it. They’re in a bar waiting for the game to start, and in walks this girl. The story then evolves into the Carlton Fisk home run to win the game and force a Game 7. Will and Sean have a sports nerd-out moment over the home run story. Will tells Sean that he can’t believe that he was there. But the stamp on the scene is Sean telling him he wasn’t there. He was in a bar talking to his future wife. He slid his ticket over to his friends and said, “Sorry guys, I gotta see about a girl.”

How does Chuckie help Will?

By the third act, Will begins to push away all who have helped him. He pushes Sean away, the professor who discovered him, Lambeau(Stellan Skarsgard), and then he pushes away his girlfriend. Skylar is leaving for grad school in California and offers Will to come with her, but he pushes back and leaves her. Will is a victim of trauma, and after having nobody believe in him his whole life, he thinks doing construction and drinking beer is going to be what’s it for him. So the idea of change is extremely alarming to him.

In a surprise turn of events, his friend Chuckie (Ben Affleck) puts him in check and reminds him that tomorrow he’s going to wake up and he’ll be sixty, and he will still be doing what he’s doing now. And that Will has a chance to do something different with his life. Every morning when Chuckie picks him up, he has a little bit of hope that when he knocks on Will’s door and he won’t answer. Because that means he found a new life.

What is the significance of Sean telling Will “It’s not your fault”?

After this eye-opening conversation, Will heads back to therapy again but this time, Lambeau is there arguing with Sean. Sean doesn’t like the idea of the professor pushing Will, pointing out that he’s had a rough life and in riding him over his mathematical fame, it’s going to break him. Sean can empathize with Will and sticks up for him, pushing those ideas of loyalty and trust again that are so prevalent in the film.

When Lambeau leaves, Sean holds Will’s file. Within this, there are some pretty awful pictures of abuse. Will asks Sean “Do you have any experience with that?” and he replies that he does. Sean’s father was an alcoholic and a nasty drunk. Sean used to provoke him so he wouldn’t o for his brothers.

This goes back to the pair opening up to one another and understanding on a deeper level. “I don’t know a lot, but all this shit? This is not your fault.”

Sean takes a step toward Will, tellingly calling him son and reiterating that it’s not his fault. The walls begin to crack. Bit by bit. And with each step forward, Sean manages to break those walls down and see the real Will, who goes through all those different periods of grief and mechanisms to push him away, eventually ending with the pair embracing.

How does Good Will Hunting end?

As Will makes amends with all who he has pushed away, he decides to leave Boston and make a cross-country trek to California to be with Skylar. Chuckie arrives at his door one morning and realizes that he isn’t there. And that gives Chuckie a lot of joy for reasons we, the audience, know. And in the film’s final moments, Sean hears a knock on his door. He opens it to see a note from Will that reads that he has to pass on all the job offers he’s gotten over the last few weeks, because he has to go see about a girl.

Good Will Hunting is a decade-defining film; it’s also the ultimate Boston film that utilizes its setting as a character in the movie. It’s a multi-layered study of grief and depression, along with the importance of therapy (and finding the right therapist too). This also ties itself into themes of being able to navigate one’s talent no matter the hardships through the mess of life. Will Hunting is a character you’re rooting for despite his flaws, and we’re still talking about it over 25 years later.

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