Starring: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin, Deanna Dunagan
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Thriller drama directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy. Stillwater (2021) centers on Bill Baker (Matt Damon), an oil-rig worker from Oklahoma who travels France to visit his estranged daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit. Confronted with language barriers, cultural differences, and a complicated legal system, Bill builds a new life for himself in France as he makes it his personal mission to exonerate her.
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Our Favorite Quote:'Life is brutal.' - Bill (Stillwater) Click To Tweet
Allison: How’s Gram?
Bill: She’s good. Still got the oxygen tank. Still got plenty of opinions.
Bill: Mind if we pray a bit?
Allison: Yeah, sure, dad.
Bill: Thank you, Lord, for bringing us together on this blessed day. And thank you for keeping a watchful eye on Allison.
Leparq: We have exhausted every possible legal action. This letter tells me that your daughter has not accepted her sentence. And she must. Do you understand?
Bill: Yes, ma’am.
Leparq: Mr. Baker, there’s a time for hope, and there’s a time for acceptance. The last thing you want to give your daughter is false hope. That could make her situation very dire. Do you understand?
Bill: Yes, ma’am.
Virginie: [translating Allison’s letter] “Patrick was approached by a student, who met a guy named Akim at a party. She was told he had stabbed a girl years ago and got away with it. It must be the same Akim who killed Lina.” You’re the father of the girl, the American student?
Bill: Yes, ma’am.
Virginie: [translating Allison’s letter for Bill] “I am innocent of this crime, and I have no one else to assist me. My grandmother can no longer make the trips to Marseille, and you know my father. I cannot trust him with this. He’s not capable. Please do not abandon me in this horrible place. I have lost five years of my life, and I still have four to go.”
[after Bill lies to Allison about Leparq opening the case again]
Allison: You have no idea how many times I wrote, and then rewrote that letter.
Bill: Well, it worked.
Bill: Maybe God answered our prayers.
Allison: Thank you, dad. Thank you so much.
Bill: And they never could find this Akim. He’s the one who killed Lina. What do you think? You speak English, right? English?
Detective: Yes. I am.
Bill: F***. Give me back the letter.
Bill: Twelve thousand dollars?
Bill: Thank you for your time.
Dirosa: Mr. Baker, do you believe your daughter is innocent?
Bill: I know she is.
Dirosa: Then maybe it’s not so much to see her go free.
Patrick: To be honest, I’ve always felt guilty about what happened. I should’ve warned Allison.
Bill: Warned her? About what?
Patrick: Well, I knew Allison and Lina were sleeping together, but I had no idea Lina had moved in with her. I try to not be cynical about these type of relationships. Poor girl from the ghetto, rich American student. But then I end up being guilty of naivete.
Bill: Allison grew up poor. She isn’t rich.
Patrick: Educated. There is a lot of resentments towards the cultural elite. But I’m sure you’re aware of that.
Bill: My daughter’s innocent.
Virginie: Is the lawyer not helping you?
Bill: I’m doing it myself for now.
Virginie: Oh. Wow.
Virginie: I have to confess, I went online, and I read about Allison’s case. It was a big story at the time. I mean, the press was ferocious, no? You say “ferocious”?
Bill: Yes, ma’am. We say that.
Virginie: [referring to Allison] She’s independent.
Bill: Yes, ma’am. Always been.
Virginie: Are you close?
Bill: Well, you read her letter.
Bill: Allison was raised by her grandmother mostly. I wasn’t around much.
Virginie: Where were you?
Bill: Working oil rigs, and being a f***up when I wasn’t.
Virginie: Bill, let them go, okay? She’s afraid.
Bill: Afraid of what? I’m talking to her.
Virginie: Yeah, but that’s not how it works here.
Bill: Well, you tell me how it works then, because nobody here’s doing s**t for me.
Virginie: I do s**t for you, okay? We should go. Now.
Virginie: Bill, what if there’s no Akim?
Bill: There is.
Virginie: Okay, but they never found this person during the investigation.
Bill: My daughter’s not a liar.
Virginie: No, I didn’t say she was.
Bill: The press was against us. All they cared about was Allison was sleeping with some Arab girl. A bunch of fake news scumbags.
Virginie: That’s why you punched that English reporter?
Bill: I was drinking then.
Bill: That’s what a roughneck does. We make hole.
Virginie: Nedjma is a technical genius.
Nedjma: I’m not a genius. I’m just younger.
Bill: I didn’t vote.
Virginie: What? Why didn’t you vote?
Bill: Got a record. I was arrested. They don’t let you vote when that happens.
Virginie: [refering to the old bar owner] He’s a racist.
Bill: Okay, he’s a racist. We still got to talk to him.
Virginie: No. I don’t talk to him! No.
Bill: Well, he might know something.
Virginie: No, he doesn’t know something!
Virginie: Bill, we’re not going to send an innocent boy to jail.
Bill: My daughter is innocent.
Virginie: I can’t believe this conversation.
Bill: Well, then you live in some fancy-a** world, honey, because I work with guys like that all the time.
Bill: I’m trying to get my little girl out of jail. That’s all I give a f*** about.
Virginie: And you sound very American right now.
Bill: Good. I am!
Virginie: Yeah, and you’re also a stranger here! You don’t understand s**t!
Sharon: Bill, have you been drinking?
Bill: No. Listen, Sharon, I’m her father.
Sharon: Oh, my God. Bill, you’re supposed to visit and come home. Don’t mess with this.
Bill: You’re going to need to trust me on this.
Allison: What the f*** did you do?
Bill: I was trying to help.