Good Will Hunting soundtrack reflects film's offbeat charm



Steven Devadanam

Staff Writer

Given today's equation of "good film/bad soundtrack" and vice versa, logic dictates that one veer away from the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film Good Will Hunting.

But thanks to an eclectic array of individual acts, beautifully crafted orchestrations and somber musings by indie folkster Elliott Smith, the soundtrack defies conventional wisdom, revisiting the quirks and charms of the film.

The Portland-based Smith has made his name by anonymity, writing the kind of folk-pop that almost guarantees one obscurity and zero radio play. But his songs haunt with an elegantly raw simplicity. It was this quality that lured director Gus Van Sant to Smith's work, as they reflected the moodiness of his cinematic vision.

Consequently, in one fell Hollywood swoop, six of Smith's songs drift across the album, and Smith himself performed one live at the Oscars.

His non-percussioned musings take form in "Angeles," a quickly strummed, dreamy tale. Smith's breathy, slackered voice sets the mood for later pieces like "Miss Serv" and the haunting pub tune, "Between the Bars." It's his most memorable piece, immediately setting a despondent mood and ending swiftly.

He's a bit more whimsical on "Say Yes," a quick, regretful ode to a morning after.

Orchestral tracks by heralded pop composer Danny Elfman are lush and dispersed perfectly, providing fleeting glimpses of autumn in Van Sant's South Boston.

Rather than weigh the remainder of the album down with meandering filler, Van Sant and co-compilers chose music and titles that speak to the film's metaphors and themes. Classic '70s tracks like Al Green's "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" and Gerry Rafferty's near-legendary "Baker Street" are refreshingly welcome and add instant credibility.

Modern pieces by The Waterboys add pep with a jangling "Fisherman's Blues," while the Dandy Warhols' "Boys Better" adds punch.

Jeb Loy Nichols' offering, "As the Rain," is the folk theme revisited, but this is tempered by a liquidy remix of "Why Do I Lie?" by trip-hop cuties Luscious Jackson.

Talent of its contributors acknowledged, the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting finds its greatest strength in its cohesiveness as a product. The perfect companion to the film, it's also a neat, concise piece of bittersweet, but ultimately buoyant, dreams.

Good Will Hunting


Various Artists


Capitol Records

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