Stillwater (2021) – Review

Bill Baker (Matt Damon) travels all the way from Oklahoma in the United States to Marseille in France, to try and help his estranged daughter Allison Baker (Abigail Breslin), who has been imprisoned for a crime that she claims to be innocent of. Along the way, new relationships are formed, and old relationships are strained, in this emotionally striking drama. A really good and at times thought-provoking film that has recently been released to cinemas.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Writers: Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain
Starring: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin, Lilou Siauvaud

Based loosely on the much publicised, real life case of Amanda Knox that occurred in 2007 (with some differences thrown into the mix), Stillwater has received some backlash for its close similarities since its release, but at the same time received high praise for the rather solid acting performances, script on display and sheer effectiveness of how the movie was filmed overall. Stillwater certainly isn’t a thrill ride, nor is it a murder mystery, but there were moments of real emotion throughout, and some important lessons to be learnt when it comes to real world relationships.  

A rather unique feature of Stillwater was the fact that the vast majority was shot and filmed in Marseille, France. This was especially unique when you factor in Matt Damon’s portrayal of the traditional, mid-western, working class American, who looked extremely out of place and experienced numerous culture clashes during his time on-screen. Various different spots of Marseille were focused on, whether they were the gritty and uninviting metropolitan areas, or the beautiful and tropical coastal regions. Overall, most certainly a city worthy of a visit.

Rather unfortunately, however, there were a couple of minor flaws that the flick seemed to contain. The first being the runtime – something many people have flagged up. At one-hundred and thirty-nine minutes, the film seemed too long for its own good, with my own interest wading slightly towards the final thirty or so minutes. Another aspect of the picture that didn’t seem too appealing, had to be the likeability of certain characters. At times, it was difficult to form any kind of emotional attachment to them, especially the ones you were meant to invest in the most. With that being said, one relationship that did seem effective was that of the main character and the young child involved in the story.

As touched upon, the main character, Bill Baker, was portrayed brilliantly by Matt Damon – the Oklahoma native, that had struggled in the past with alcohol and drug abuse, was at the center of the majority of the scenes and did a solid job. Elsewhere, Allison Baker was played by Abigail Breslin, while Camille Cottin and Lilou Siauvaud adopted the roles of Virginie and Maya, respectively.

All in all, Stillwater certainly wasn’t the thriller that some expected, especially after seeing the trailer, but this intense drama, managed to highlight the strong bond between a desperate father and troubled daughter very well, along with showcasing the things people will do to protect those they love, even if it is to the detriment of their own happiness.

“Life is brutal…”

Bill Baker – Stillwater

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