- Year of Release
- Universal/Focus Features
- 2h 19min
How would you deal with a family member being incarcerated for a crime they didn’t commit? Matt Damon’s latest movie places him as a father desperate to find the truth that could set his daughter free. Stillwater focuses on Matt Damon’s character Bill, a father struggling with a chequered past who is doing all he can to support his daughter doing time in a French prison for murder. Abigail Breslin plays his daughter Allison, who seems like she could be innocent of the crime but also seems to be hiding something.
While Bill is in France, he meets the neighbour’s daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud) and Maya’s theatre-actress mother, Virginie (Camille Cottin). This is where the plot falls over slightly – a lost American man in a dire situation meets up with a divorced mother of two. If nothing romantic occurs, I’d be shocked and impressed that the plot didn’t smack head-on into over-used and tired cliches. But it’s fair to say that Bill and Virginie will end up in the bedroom at some point, and we can only hope that it’s a short diversion.
Meanwhile, Allison has discovered new evidence to prove her innocence which Daddy clings to like a lifeline. For the next act in the film, Matt Damon’s devout but tough “redneck” gets a few action sequences where he disperses his idea of justice in Marseilles. Does this make things worse for Allison? Most likely. In a way, that’s kind of what we want as the audience. Something has to keep us on Bill’s side because they sure as hell won’t be on Allison’s. Allison seems way too dodgy and sneaky to trust entirely. But what if she was being framed?
Matt Damon is a more than capable actor, in fact, many would say that he has had Oscar-worthy performances in the past (for acting, not writing), and he’s no slouch here. His accent sounds genuine enough, and he’s well and truly playing the part of a desperate parent ready to do just about anything to get his kid out of trouble. Abigail Breslin has the perfect amount of friendliness and rough edges to make the role of Allison truly hers. We’ve got two good reasons to give this film the thumbs-up.
The background really is Marseille, and it’s nothing short of breathtaking. It’s almost nice enough to forget the bad things that people do, even in beautiful places.
Stillwater isn’t an exceptional film, but it’s directed well, and the actors are top-notch. The only let-down from a plot perspective is some turns in the film that should or could have been less obvious. We enjoy it when we’re wrong now and then.
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.