REVIEW / FILM OPINION – 5 years after the triumph of “Spotlight” at the Oscars, Tom McCarthy returns with the story of an American in search of truth in the heart of Marseille. Matt Damon stars in “Stillwater” alongside Frenchwoman Camille Cottin.
Stillwater : Matt Damon strolling through the Old Port
Bill Baker (Matt Damon) travels to Marseille, from the United States, to visit his daughter (Abigail Breslin) imprisoned for years for the murder of a teenage girl. And this time, he intends to do everything possible to exonerate him. This is the subject of the new film by acclaimed director Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. To tell the truth, if the pitch allows the scenario to launch by presenting itself as a thriller, Stillwater becomes something else afterwards.
With such an actor in the headlining, we expected a story of revenge against a background of judicial injustice, with all the American hoopla, a small dose of action and the predictable culture shock. After 2h20 (!), we hardly had any of this and it’s a little surprise because the script signed Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré allows itself to take unexpected branches on paper.
A disappointing thriller
As a thriller, Stillwater fails to recount Bill’s quest with gusto. We quickly get bored following Mart Damon on his adventures in Marseille, in contact with the locals. The film fails to create tension which espouses the determination of the main character. Quickly, a small passage in an inhospitable city raises the whole a little but it does not take long to find the time long during the whole investigation. If we came to attend an entertainment in the company of a major star, our expectations are not met.
Even when the film tries to hang up the wagons in its last act, we never feel our heart racing for what is playing on screen. Polite boredom caused by the odd choice made by the central part of Stillwater. The story turns into romance against a backdrop of disorientation, combining the imposing presence of an impeccable Matt Damon and the liveliness of a convincing Camille Cottin. The two also display a beautiful chemistry and but it is more the relationship between Bill and little Maya that manages to inject a semblance of emotion.
Marseille: 0, United States: 1
The fact remains that time is slow and that we lose sight of the main objective – the release of the girl. Was there not more interesting to tell than the banalities experienced by Bill (picking up young Maya from school, cooking …)? Thanks to an incredible stroke of luck, the thriller regains the ascendancy and it takes an unexpected revelation to take a different look at this story.
In the end, it is not the long Marseille part that remains in the lead but the rare passages in the United States. The film gives us something to peck at in the description of the working class in the United States. The one in which people count every penny and pile up jobs without any assurance about their future. Matt Damon fits the role perfectly, with his Carhartt saps and his old company’s cap attached to his head. We then start dreaming of another film, located only in the USA, about Bill’s past …
Stillwater by Tom McCarthy, released on September 22, 2021. The trailer above. Find all our trailers here.