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Drama - Family

Stillwater (2021)

Duration2h 19m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Spain: 12 
Source of storySaid to be loosely based on the Amanda Knox story.
DirectorTom McCarthy
Writers/ScriptTom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
StarringMatt Damon, Camille Cottim, Abigail Breslin, Lilou Siauvaud, Deanna Dunagan, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.9 by 3600 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 75% by 162 reviewers.

Elevator Pitch: Bill Baxter is an Oklahoma oil worker. He has a prison record, is a reformed drinker, and says grace before every meal. He has a daughter who has been jailed for the murder of her flatmate in Marseilles so he visits her on a regular basis exchanging small talk and doing her laundry. The situation changes when it seems that a third person was involved in the murder. Stymied by the immovable French legal system Bill flounders about in an environment he does not understand, saved only from disaster by a friendly French actress and her young daughter. Despite his limitations can he find the third person, and prove his daughter’s innocence?

Content: No actual nudity although Bill and Virginie eventually get to it in dim light. Bill looks for work. Unsuccessfully and once in Marseilles visit the prison where he sometimes gets on with his daughter and sometimes not. The French lawyers are obstructive. Virginie the French actress (in the movie) is friendly and Bill sort of adopts her and her daughter as a surrogate family. There are scenes in the badlands of Marseilles where Bill is beaten up. He and the French daughter go to a  football match (for me maybe the scariest scene in the whole film).

A View: Despite the moderate approval from the critics it seems likely that this outing will sink without trace. If anything it seems to me that it is a tale of a working man from Middle America who is invited into a new world but in the end makes little of it. So this approach may explain the extraordinary length of the film. Surely half an hour could have been cut out of it and the intent still achieved. One of the critics said “wait until it comes out on TV’. Probably right.

Additional Info: The director and the star spent time in Oklahoma learning about the lives of the oil workers there. 

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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