Friday, August 13, 2021

Stillwater

Starring: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin
Director: Tom McCarthy
Running Time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Rating: R

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie with Matt Damon as the lead. It may have been as far back as "The Martian", but I must say, he is absolutely spectacular in the new movie "Stillwater". Loosely inspired by the Amanda Knox story, this film focuses on an oil-rig roughneck from Stillwater, Oklahoma, who vehemently works to free his daughter from a French prison. While a bit too long, it's a captivating, anxiety-ridden story, with great performances. If you're looking to get out of the house (or if you can stream it at home), give this one a watch.

We meet Bill Baker (Damon) in Oklahoma, as he prepares for a trip to Marseille, France, to see his daughter Allison (Breslin), who is serving a 9 year sentence after being convicted of murdering her former girlfriend/roommate. Prior to the conviction, Bill and Allison were somewhat estranged, so the tension between them is palpable. She maintains her innocence, and he's pretty much the only person who believes her, so when the opportunity to help get her sentence overturned arises, Bill jumps at the challenge.

After making acquaintances with a local, Virginie (Cottin), and her daughter, Maya, Bill begins digging for clues and following leads that Allison's lawyer has chosen to ignore. He comes in contact with some pretty shady characters and does some borderline-illegal acts to get answers. Meanwhile, his hard exterior is softened a bit by his budding relationship with Virginie and Maya. By day, he's super dad, picking up Maya from school and bringing her chocolate croissants, and by night, he's assaulting young men on the street and holding them captive.

The final 20 minutes of the film are thrilling, I just wish it didn't take us quite so long to get there. It's a great detective story, as we watch Bill uncover clues and stay under the radar on his mission. And Damon's attention to detail - the way he speaks and carries himself - allows him to fully disappear in this role. He reminds us that he is one of the great film actors of our time. Bravo, overall.

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