Wearing a hat, a bushy beard, driving an old truck, less sensitive to foreign cultures, calling american football “the real football”, having an eagle tattoo on his arm, Bill Baker (Matt Damon) is arguably the image of a conservative United States man. He didn’t vote during the election because he has a criminal record, but if given the chance, we know who he will vote for.
Stillwater is a story about a “very American” protagonist, but with Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, Spotlight) as director and screenwriter (alongside Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain, and Noé Debré), the film is presented in a “not-so-American” way. through a slow plot, and a long duration, as well as a dark conclusion that does not give a definite answer. Because there is no certainty of relief for the problems of the characters. Top Movie Site
Bill was a roughneck in an oil mine. He lived alone, going about the standard routine of working-class Americans. Until one by one the facts about his life are revealed, when Bill flies to Marseille, France. His wife died by suicide, while his only daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), is entering the fifth year of a total nine-year prison sentence, as a defendant in the murder of Lina, a girl of Arab descent who is also his lover.
Allison insisted that the culprit was someone else. Of course Bill believed it. When the lawyer refuses to continue the case due to lack of evidence, Bill is determined to take care of everything himself, even though he is in a foreign country where he doesn’t understand the language at all.
Bill, with all his typical American arrogance and ignorancy, is not a likeable figure. He doesn’t care if the investigation is deemed to be an invasion of privacy or is seen as not in accordance with local customs. When he met an eyewitness whose statements were full of hate speech against people of Arab descent, Bill was not bothered, arguing that he “had often encountered similar things at work”.
Thanks to the two points, we can sympathize with him. First, about motivation. Bill’s love for Allison was a certainty, but more than that, he was driven to prove his worth. “He’s a fuck up”, Allison said of the father, who to her was useless and repeatedly ruined her life. Bill is not trying to be a hero to steal the princess’s heart, but is reluctant to be a loser who is (back) powerless to save his loved ones.
Second, what if it wasn’t for Matt Damon’s acting, which humanized Bill, giving him a fragility that contradicts the machismo image of conservative American men. Damon is charming, because he looks casual, aka there is no need to explode in expressing frustration. Best Movie
Although it is quite unfortunate when some of the subtexts surrounding the issue of racism and homophobicism are limited to being a setting without meaningful exploration and impact, Stillwater has other strengths related to its storytelling. The plot is rich. At almost every point there is material to observe and/or reveal new facts. Even Stillwater often takes unexpected paths, without having to position it as a bombastic twist. For McCarthy, the surprise here is not a twist, but a part of the winding journey of life.
For example, when the timeskip appears for four months, the existence of which is quite against the standard. Most similar films will finish the story in a short period of time in order to maintain the intensity. Stillwater, in tune with his slow tempo, chose to take his time. Because, scrolling time is essential for the character process.
Time provides an opportunity for the relationship between Bill and Virginie (Camille Cottin) and their daughter, Maya (played wonderfully by the talented child actress, Lilou Siauvaud), to develop. Virginie is a theater actress whom Bill meets at the hotel, then helps her as a translator, before they end up living together. Over time, Bill finds a new family, new happiness, but is he ready to start a new life?
McCarthy’s directing tends to dampen emotional outbursts, even though the slow tempo can be draggy at some points, but overall, the pacing game is solid. Move steadily, even if slowly. It feels long, but once it’s over, I didn’t expect the film to run for 140 minutes. Stillwater is a typical film where the audience simply sits, observes, accepts, and then lets the character’s journey, which is full of dilemmas and moral ambiguity, sink in by itself. Movie Review