Stillwater; Grade: B
Stillwater tells a story about a father named Bill (Matt Damon) whom visits his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) over in France. Allison has been in prison for quite some time, for a murder charge that Allison refuses to admit she did. While Bill reaches out to a case worker hoping to help Allison's case, she refuses to help. As Allison pleads how no one in her family is reliable in terms of help, Bill lies to Allison claiming the case worker is going to work on her case, as Bill is going handle matters himself. Witness a thrilling tale in which not only will Bill try and seek justice for her daughter and find the real culprit, but Bill will come out of this as a new man.
Stillwater can perhaps be misleading from the trailers. What one might assume to be an action packed mystery thriller which was in the first half, turned out to be a steadily slow paced heartfelt drama in the second half. For a minute I really thought I was going to be on the edge of my seat for the whole duration, but the film suddenly switches into a family type drama, where our lead character rediscovers another chance on being a better father to a little girl accompanied by a mother whom are complete strangers to Bill. For what it's worth: I thought it was kind of neat for a change, as it really gave our lead character more depth.
The first half of Stillwater was fairly exciting, as we get to endure Bill actually making a valid attempt in trying to find this lead suspect, going round about asking people that were at the scene of the crime and to point out the suspect through photos on Instagram. Sure Bill may not be trained for this ordeal, however at least he was making a valid attempt to help, while trained professionals whom are suppose to do their job are not up for the task unfortunately. Couple tense brutal sequences, especially what goes down near the outdoor soccer park.
Then the second half completely changes, as it focuses more on our lead character Bill and also focuses on the dramatic aspect. Since Bill was shunned from Allison, Bill remained at France for awhile, as he stood at the place he helped a couple strangers with their housework while one helps be a translator so he can understand the people he was asking questions. During this time where Bill couldn't speak to his daughter for awhile: Bill grown an unexpected bond with the little girl he was staying with, as in a way it was his redemption on becoming a better father. The bond between the two unlikely pair was quite adorable, left a fair amount of emotions inside, followed by a very saddening ending. It maybe a change of paced, but I thought it was done fairly well as it was more than just a thriller, however the real meat on the bones did pick up later on which was kind of predictable.
The ending can endure mixed feelings from the audience, however I found it to be a much fitting end. As Bill says he can’t hardly recognize his surroundings, it meant he couldn't recognize his own reality around him. Like he felt betrayed that a professional who's job is to help the innocent, freed of criminal charges, can sit there and not actually make any effort to help his daughter. You can also say Bill felt disgusted by his country more towards the state of Oklahoma, as the governor or mayor I believe claimed something of importance, yet Bill knows they didn't do a damn thing to help as well. I believe that experience brought a whole lot of good to Bill, it made him a better father, a better man, and opened his eyes on the real world around him.
Some issues lie on pacing issues especially some scenes that dragged a bit long in the second half, predictability was noticeable, I also felt Matt Damon was at times inconsistent with the role he was playing as. Stillwater to me was a throughly enjoyable film, that delivered a much unexpected experience I wasn't expecting to receive, in a good way.
Overall, Stillwater was a solid film. I recommend checking this film out. -Mitch Smietana