Written by Maria Athayde


Stillwater directed by Tom McCarthy and starring Matt Damon is one of the most uninspired pieces of media I have consumed in a long time. The movie “loosely based” on Amanda Knox’s story has been met with mixed reviews since its premiere at Cannes. As the movie receives its wide release in the United States Amanda Knox is hitting back at this notion in an essay published on Medium about being in the public eye, her relationship with the press, and being able to tell her story in her own words. I’d highly suggest reading Knox’s essay before viewing Stillwater as it helps put things into perspective.    

In Stillwater, Damon plays Bill an oil rig worker from Oklahoma who travels to Marseille, France to visit his estranged daughter Allison, in prison, after she was arrested for the murder of her girlfriend Lina. After exhausting all their legal options Bill takes matters into his own hands to get to the bottom of it and set his daughter free. What ensues from here is cliche and overdone. We “learn” about the differences between the French and Americans. Like the differences in penal code, culture, and social relationships between the two countries and their people. At the end of the day, in trying to dismantle cliches, Damon’s character personifies everything people from other countries hate about Americans so much.

That is really all there is to this movie. Nothing about it is memorable. It is the type of movie you will forget about the second you walk out of the theater. The script, cinematography, score, and performances were all pretty forgettable with the exception of the adorable Lilou Siauvaud who plays Maya. As a side note, my viewing experience was hindered by an audience member who decided to offer commentary throughout the movie. We really do not talk about movie going etiquette enough and I have a sense that I’ll be dealing with a lot more of these characters as theaters start to open back up. In the end, this really feels like the type of movie that should have come out years ago right around when American Sniper (2014) was released. I simply cannot understand how this movie received a standing ovation at Cannes but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Stillwater Trailer

Stillwater is currently in screening theatrically in wide release.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on Letterboxd and Twitter or view more of what she’s up to here.

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