Great Moments: Park Scene — Good Will Hunting (1997)
After hearing of Robin Williams’ passing, I could not help but think about all the moments he gave us whether it was a laugh or a tear. One moment in particular has always stood out for me: the park scene from Good Will Hunting. I was tempted post the climactic “It’s not your fault” scene as a Great Moment from this film–and it really is–but something about this scene and this monologue just feels more appropriate than ever.
This comes after an unsuccessful attempt at getting Will to open up about himself. The session was a battle of wits that ended after Will’s effort to dissect Sean through a painting in his office leads to Sean snapping at him and later falling into despair. Cue the park scene where Sean tries a new tactic.
It begins with Will doing his usual cocky remarks trying to get a rise out of Sean, but something in the therapist makes him appear more secure than last we saw him. Robin Williams delivers the following monologue masterfully. Sean completely dissects Will’s cocky demeanor by simply acknowledging that Will “doesn’t have the faintest idea of what he’s talking about.” Will could read every book in the world about life, love, death, but he doesn’t know what it’s like to have been face to face with any of these.
Probably the part of this that really quiets Will is when Sean says the following line:
If I asked you about love, you could probably quote me a sonnet, but you’ve never looked at woman and been totally vulnerable; known someone who could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you, someone who could rescue you from the depths of hell; and you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her and be there forever through anything, through cancer; and you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in a hospital room for two months holding her hand because the doctors can see in your eyes that the term’s visiting hours don’t apply to you.
Not only does Will feel a touch of shame after this revelation, but he doesn’t make a peep for the rest of the scene as Sean breaks him down further by calling him a “cocky, scared shitless kid,” but he makes it clear that even though he’s a genius, Will isn’t all together. Sean instills empathy in this moment by relating that he couldn’t possibly know what Will has been through unless he decides to talk about himself. That is the only way he can move forward in his life.
What really makes this scene is Williams’ cool-headed tone of voice that exemplifies Sean’s peace of mind. The way Sean goes about this isn’t proud or with any hint of spite; he forgoes his previous position as an opponent to Will and places himself humbly as a sort of father figure whose credentials hang openly on his weathered face and graying beard. Sean isn’t without his own struggles and regrets, but Williams proves in one of the best performances of his career that this troubled character, in a moment of peace, can see clearly that we have experiences–happy or sad–that shape who we are, but until we face our inner selves head on, we won’t be able to overcome whatever is hindering us from living our lives.
Your move, chief.
R.I.P. Robin Williams (1951-2014)
Written by Austin Campbell
What did you think of this article? Agree? Disagree? What’s your interpretation of the scene?
Talk to me in the comments below.