‘Stillwater’ Flows As A Procedural, Human Drama (Movie Review)

Stillwater Movie ReviewBefore I begin with introducing Stillwater I have something to admit.  I have not written a review of anything since last November.  If memory serves me correct, the third season of Westworld was my last.  I had a lot of big changes, losses and even happy gains happen in my life since then.  I needed time away from being overly critical about things like movies.  I feel it was therapeutic, but also coming back slowly into the fold here may bode very well for me.  That’s what I am hoping for at least.  Plus I got to bring my fiancé to her first press screening ever.  Win!  Now about that Stillwater movie.  It may have not been showing for us press at the most desirable of places here in Austin, but when I watched the trailer something about it spoke loudly to me.  Here’s this man going into a foreign country and he’s risking everything to prove his daughter’s innocence.  I don’t have those kind of problems in life, but I can definitely relate to the fact that I have spent a lot of my time recently traveling outside my comfort zone, having many first experiences and really risking it all for something I believe in (also known as not taking the safe path in life).

That man I speak about up above is none other than veteran actor Matt Damon.  He’s put on a little weight for this role.  He also sticks out like a sore thumb in the foreign land I mentioned, which in Stillwater is France.  The movie is directed by Tom McCarthy from a script he co-wrote with three others.  Stillwater stars Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin and Deanna Dunagan.  And it just made its debut this month at the Cannes Film Festival.  It’s scheduled to drop nationwide in theaters this Friday, July 30th, courtesy of Focus Features.  So what’s it all about?  Whew!  I thought you would never ask!


Depending upon what you believe and what you read I have found numerous online sources stating that Stillwater is loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox.  The young American was convicted of murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, back in 2009. She spent four years in an Italian prison before being exonerated in 2015.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise about the similarities in the plot here with Stillwater.  

Matt Damon’s character is an oil-rig/construction worker who travels to France to visit his daughter (Breslin).  It’s not an ordinary kind of visit of course.  His daughter happens to be in prison there for the murder of her girlfriend, which she claims she did not do.  And as I mentioned up above Matt’s character sticks out like a fish out of water there in France.  Like the synopsis of the film states he’s confronted by language barriers, cultural differences, the legal system, which his daughter exhausted, and so much more.  However, that doesn’t stop him.  He’s driven and out to defy the odds. He’s going the distance.  This ladies and gentlemen was why this movie spoke so loudly to me.  


Stillwater is a long movie.  It clocks in somewhere around 140 minutes, but it’s time well spent.  I was so invested in the characters, their development and where life took them that I did not squirm in my chair even once.  I also had a lot of laughs.  It was difficult at times not to see Matt as Jason Bourne, but watching him get his butt kicked once was all one needed to get over that.  His character’s lines and deliveries sealed the deal for me.  Sometimes they even had me in stitches as they were that funny.  So if a movie can deliver on both an emotional level of resonance and on humor, then it’s going to get high accolades in my grading system.  There’s even a slight twist that I for one didn’t see coming and it hit me with power right in the gut.  Yes!  It took a straight forward narrative and threw it on its belly.  I can definitely subscribe to that!

I don’t want Matt Damon fans going into this thinking they are in store for another action, crime thriller.  Yes there are some thrilling moments, but they are very few and far between.  Instead the appreciation here should focus on the actors and their relationships.  The tender moments, human drama and spoken words in Stillwater are the stars of this production.  The dialogue, while very emotional at times, is the glue that holds everything together here.  Without these investments I’m afraid Stillwater would just be a very long, slow moving film.  Instead the procedural thriller it is excels in my books due to the human drama of it all.  I’ll take that any day over just a straight forward, procedural CSI-like thriller.  I won’t make any bold recommendations by saying you have to see this in the theater or rush out now, but I do think the juice is worth the squeeze here however it’s convenient for you to intake/digest.

Stillwater Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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