Matt Damon plays an oil rig worker travelling from Oklahoma to Marseilles France. He is investigating the case that resulted in his daughter Abigail Breslin getting imprisoned. Sounds like a fairly typical Oscar bait injustice correction drama right. In a lot of ways it is. However what if this critic said that Stilwater please like a decidedly right-wing parody of these kinds of narratives. Putting Damon’s decidedly jingoistic American in a foreign climate. Seeing how his biases and interactions create conflict. Why not toss in a fairly bog-standard love story that develops throughout his time in France for good measure.
The script tries to have some level of self-awareness as to how one dimensional Damon’s character feels. This feels more like a concession than an honest admission. There’s a sequence where Breslin is surprised that Damon still has his iPod classic. This viewers immediate thought was that Toby Keiths ironically hilarious Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue( The Angry American) must be unironically on our central characters playlist. Breslin does the best she can with a decidedly underwritten part. The love story elements are generic but not necessarily terrible. Then there’s an utterly bizarre kidnapping centric final act that reads away any modicum of dubious empathy for Damon’s central character. As the film concludes he should probably be in jail as opposed to bringing his daughter home with little to no repercussions. Then after 140 long minutes, the film just stops with a conclusion that feels decidedly abortive.
Stillwater is a distinctly different take on a very well worn subgenre. That said outside of the commitment within central performances It doesn’t offer much beyond surface-level subversion. Then there’s a third act that should make a selection of the audience lose all sympathy for the protagonist. Viewers will wonder why they invested The far too long 140-minute runtime in the first place.