An Oklahoma man travels to France to find a way to help his
daughter, who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn't commit.
Directed by Tom McCarthy
Written by Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey,
Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
Starring Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin,
Lilou Siauvaud, Deanna Dunagan, Idir Azougli, Anne Le Ny
Stillwater was marketed as a "fish out of water" thriller starring Matt Damon as a Trump voter trying to save his daughter from false imprisonment. But really, the film is only about 40% that. It's a movie about second chances mostly, with Damon's character finding a new family while fighting to get his daughter out of prison for a murder she (probably) committed. The film does give you a definitive answer, but I won't spoil it here. Matt Damon delivers his finest performances in years, with Abigail Breslin right behind him as his daughter Allison.
Damon plays Bill Baker, an oil rig worker born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He was never there for his daughter, and after her mother died, they basically parted ways. But when Allison is arrested for stabbing her girlfriend to death and imprisoned in Marseilles, Bill goes to France to follow up on a new lead. While there, Bill tries to hunt down the guy he believes really committed the murder, and his screw-up further damages his relationship with Allison. He also befriends actress Virginie (Cottin) and her daughter Maya (Siauvaud), and sees the potential for a second chance at being a father. Despite a long runtime, the film draws you in with its humanizing screenplay and realistic characters.
I think Stillwater is one of the better surprises of the year. It did not have a well-constructed trailer, and the film is so much more complex and personal than it was marketed as. That's not surprising, though, considering it's from the same director as Spotlight. Every plot thread gets wrapped up in the end, and the film has a lot to say about how Americans are viewed internationally, and vice versa.