I wasn’t planning to write a blog about the passing of Robin Williams. Rather, I was going to just pay my respects by watching one of my favorite Robin William’s movies, “Good Will Hunting”. If you have not seen this film, then my friend, you are failing at life. I think it is one of the best movies in the past 15-20 years; its phenomenal. And, after watching it with my wife a few nights ago, she brought clarity to something that I had been rolling over in my mind for years. Why, to this day, does the “Its not your fault” scene remain so powerful?
The movie made a huge Hollywood impact when it came out in 1997. It made Ben Affleck the “actor” he is today (just kidding, he was great in Daredevil…) and gave Matt Damon his start as well. It is widely regarded as one of the best movies of that year and ended up getting nominated for many academy awards and winning 2. One for Best Screenplay and one for Best Supportive Actor for Robin Williams. For a lot of people when they think of Robin Williams they think of comedy and that’s probably pretty accurate. He was hilarious and that genre represented a large body of his work. But, when I think of Robin Williams, I think of : “Its not your fault”
The movie is about an orphaned 20 year old math genius, Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. He is a brilliant, but violent, fast talking liar with a very dark past. He gets into some trouble for assualt and as part of his plea deal, to stay out of jail, he has to receive weekly therapy from Shawn (Robin Williams). Shawn’s wife recently died from cancer and he is still putting the pieces of his life back together. Shawn finds meaning to life in helping Will. The emotional climax of the movie takes place after Shawn, who has spent weeks building a rapport with Will, finally gets him to open up. Shawn pulls out Will’s medical file and It’s full of all kinds of physical abuse from foster parents. Shawn looks at Will and says “I don’t know a lot but, this, its not your fault”. He continues to say “its not your fault” over and over breaking down Will’s walls. The kindness and firmness in Robin Williams’ eyes is mesmerizing. Will, after some initial deflecting, starts crying and sobs over and over “I’m so sorry… God I’m so sorry”.
Every time I have watched this movie I think about that scene for a days to come. It wasn’t until talking to my wife about it, the other night, that I realized why it resonated with me so much. She said, with much wisdom, it’s because we have all experienced serious hurt, to one degree or another, and we all long for someone to pursue us and show us freedom. She was so right. You almost see the chains of guilt and anger come falling off Will as Shawn talks to him. To be set free from the bondage that deep pain brings is nothing short of the gospel. And, like other moments of great repentance, redemption, and vulnerability all Will can say “I’m so sorry”
You can watch a clip of this scene below. But I do warn you, there is some bad language. So, if you are sensitive to that (or have kids around), perhaps you should watch it later or not at all.
Secretly, I think, we all long to let people deep into our worlds and let them see the messed stuff that makes us who we are. Its sanctifying. But, like Will, we are terrified at what might come out. We want healing. but often don’t know what that looks like or even how to get there. Shawn slowly works on Will breaking down his walls. And then, at the moment of great conversation, Will is overcome. Not unlike Jesus, Shawn opens his arms wide and lets Will fall into them. Will has been set free.
Good Will Hunting is a beautiful picture of the redemption, forgiveness, and the gospel. And, in my opinion, Robin Williams’ finest work. Go watch it tonight. We will miss you Robin. You were very talented and there will be a large hole in entertainment for years to come.
What’s your favorite Robin Williams moment?