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Stillwater (2021)


Amanda Knox was wrongfully imprisoned in an Italian jail for nearly four years. She was convicted of murdering her roommate, and fellow exchange student in 2007. Stillwater is a fictional story about a father, Bill, played by Matt Damon, trying to get his daughter, Allison played by Abigail Breslin out of a French jail. The film did not contact Amanda Knox, instead, it spent time in Oklahoma researching the life of roughnecks; oil rig workers.

Bill is a stand-in for the loss of blue-collar work in America. His backstory is meant to bring this film to a wider audience so they can try and relate. He is a caricature from liberal Hollywood. The film revolves around his and Allison’s situation, and is used as an excuse for Bill to immerse himself in the culture of Marseille. Bill develops a relationship with a local named Virginie, Camille Cottin, and her daughter Maya, Lilou Siauvaud.

The alleged perpetrator of the murder at the center of the story is a Muslim living in government projects with many recent immigrants. We see racism within the police force and elsewhere towards the Muslim community. The project area is its own little community and is viewed as dangerous. If you take any time to think about it, it makes sense for this group to be isolated. The native French are unwelcoming to these ‘others’ so the ‘others’ form a community support network of their own. When others will not protect them, they must protect themselves and become as self-sufficient as possible. Did Stillwater attempt to explore immigration and the communities that form outside of the US so that US viewers may challenge their beliefs about immigrant communities, especially in states with oil workers? NOPE.

The film tries to weave in some action sequences, but they are too few and far between in the 2:19 runtime. It attempts to give wealthy globe traveling folks a view of travel from a blue-collar worker. It attempts to show the love of a father and the lengths he would go to re-establish a relationship with his estranged daughter. It touches on racism and immigration. It has a queer love story. It does a terrible job of tying all of these elements together. It stole a story from a true victim and ends the film accusing them of being an accomplice. This is a bad film when you consider the background and poor execution of any number of statements it tries to make.

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