The film Stillwater is based upon and exploits the Amanda Knox story. Swapping Italy for the town of Marseille, France, Allison (Abigail Breslin), an American university student is convicted of killing her girlfriend, Lina. Bill (Matt Damon), Allison’s estranged father, visits her regularly in prison and is convinced of her innocence.
The majority of the film focuses on Bill’s quest to prove her innocence. Bill is a roughneck (oil driller), good ol’ boy Okie from Stillwater. After delivering a letter to Allison’s lawyer with new information, he takes it upon himself to find the main suspect, Akim, with the help of Virginie (Camille Cottin). This is completely against Allison’s wishes because she sees him, and herself, as a ‘fuck-up’.
Bill develops a relationship with Virginie, and her daughter, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). After Allison refuses to see him anymore, Bill stays with Virginie, as a friend, helps with Maya, and goes native. Honestly, the subplot of this relationship with Virginie that progresses to a romantic relationship, and the fatherly relationship with Maya, slow the film down to a snail’s pace. The story finally picks up again, when Bill takes Maya to a football game, and he captures Akim. Bill collects DNA from Akim, hands it to an ex-cop, then finally learns the truth of what happened with the murder of Lina. This situation ruins his relationship with his new French family, and he goes back to Stillwater, quickly followed by Allison, after she is released when the DNA matches what was left at the crime scene.
I was originally pretty excited to see the film, but then I read a Vanity Fair interview with the director, Tom McCarthy. McCarthy mentioned that he wanted to be in the shoes of Amanda Knox, or something like that. Knox, who was found not guilty for the murder of Meredith Kercher, was probably very available. Knox came out after the article was published and voiced that her story was being exploited. Reading her responses made me have really icky feelings, and I almost didn’t go see it, because they’re profiting off her story. To be fair, Knox is profiting off her own story as well, but it still isn’t right. This situation hurt the film, in my opinion, and I think the box office numbers in the US reflect that as well. I would have rated this film higher, and enjoyed it more, had I not seen the press surrounding it. I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Damon did well in his portrayal of an Okie roughneck, and you could tell he really did study to nail the role. Breslin was neither here nor there, and I didn’t necessarily sympathize with her at all. So, I didn’t really care in the end if she got out of prison or not.
This film clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, and it felt like a 2 hour and 20-minute film. I didn’t like the subplot, at all. It made the movie so bloated, and I kind of just wanted it to end. I don’t think this film is going to do well outside of the US, at all.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.