Stillwater Movie Review

Stillwater Movie Review
There's a moment in Tom McCarthy's "Stillwater" where Matt Damon's character is speaking to a lawyer regarding his daughter's case. The lawyer urges Damon's character to learn the difference between hope and acceptance and walk the line finely, but know when it's time to come down on the side of acceptance. This is the theme that permeates "Stillwater," a drama that is solid in large chunks, but woefully uneven in others.

Like the Nicholas Cage movie "Pig" from a few weeks ago (go see "Pig"!), "Stillwater" wears the skin of a different movie than it ends up being. "Pig" presented itself as a "John Wick"-like revenge picture but offered something much more thoughtful and meditative. "Stillwater" might make you think Damon is traversing the globe in some kind of "Taken"-esque thriller, trying to free his daughter, but the movie takes its time, while getting distracted along the way.

Damon plays Bill Baker, who lives in Oklahoma and works on an oil rig but jets off to France to visit his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin), who has been in jail for five years (out of a nine-year sentence) for allegedly killing her girlfriend. Bill knows his daughter is innocent and wants to do everything he can to help her prove that. He extends his trip to France so he can meet with lawyers and follow leads, but he needs help translating French to English. After he meets Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), Virginie offers to help Bill and join him on meetings to translate.

Weeks turn to months for Bill's time in France, and he ends up moving in with Virginie and her daughter. He gets a construction job in France, pays Virginie rent and helps with Maya while Virginie is at work. The middle portion of the movie buckles under its overall 140-minute runtime, because Allison's storyline becomes secondary to Bill's new life. It's always lingering on the periphery because we can't help but know it's the reason why Bill now lives in France, but the movie sidelines the case.

Bill is a difficult person to get to know as he responds to most questions with a dutiful "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am," if not one-word answers. He hides under his sunglasses and camouflage hat - an appearance and presentation that causes Virginie's friend to ask him if he voted for Trump - and keeps his head down, even when he is trying to find out answers surrounding his daughter. While the middle portion of the movie slows things down considerably, it does show what is living beneath Bill's surface. He's looking for a chance to restart, a chance to redeem himself, and - yes, despite the advice given - a little hope.

The screenplay (written by McCarthy, Thomas Bidegain, Marcus Hinchey and Noé Debré) doesn't have a consistent flow and even feels like three different movies: a legal procedural, a domestic drama, and, in the third act, a thriller. The final act is built entirely on a major contrivance that could only happen in a screenplay, and it creates more questions than it answers. This takes the air out of the film's conclusion and continually disrupts the pacing of the movie. McCarthy demonstrated his command of movie pacing in his masterpiece and Best Picture-winning film "Spotlight", but that did not translate to "Stillwater."

Structural issues aside, Damon and Breslin carry the movie with their characters' shared history, which offers some depth and earned emotion even when things get bumpy along the way. The movie dances around larger conversations it's not really interested in having - and doesn't need to - because it really should be focused on Bill and Allison's relationship. When it keeps that focus, "Stillwater" feels like a drama of a bygone era, and that's something to appreciate in and of itself.

Stillwater Movie Review By Matthew Passantino
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Stillwater Movie Review Stillwater Movie Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 08, 2021 Rating: 5


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