Review: ‘Stillwater’ Runs Deep Thanks To Great Performances, Intriguing Story

Jul 30, 2021, 3:40 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Not all summer movies are “event” movies. If you look, you can often find other gems that don’t get as much fanfare.  “Stillwater,” starring Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award winner Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), is one of those films.

Matt Damon stars in “Stillwater,” opening in theaters on July 30, 2021.

Damon plays unemployed Oklahoma oil rigger Bill Baker and looks like the embodiment of a country music ballad: Jeans, cap, goatee, pickup, flannel shirt.

So you can imagine how out of place Bill looks when he suddenly moves to Marseilles, France, to try and help his estranged daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin), serving time in a French prison after being convicted of murdering her girlfriend.

Abigail claims she’s innocent, but when her lawyer and local police say some alleged new evidence won’t change anything, Bill tries to take matters into his own hands to investigate the lead.

After Bill inadvertently befriends 8-year-old Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), her mother Virginie (Camille Cottin of “Killing Eve”) helps him to navigate language barriers, cultural differences and the complicated legal system.

But as he spends more time in Marseilles, he becomes more entwined in Virginie and Maya’s lives, giving him a second chance at being the man he failed to be for his own daughter.

Compelling performances from Damon, Cottin and Siauvaud carry “Stillwater.”  It also authentically recreated (for me at least) the feeling of what it is like to be an American living in a foreign country.

The plot had obvious parallels with the real-life Amanda Knox story, but it also had suspenseful elements and the occasional intriguing twist thrown in.

While Damon turned in an outstanding performance, there were times where I couldn’t tell if his character Bill was supposed to be an authentic middle American man, or a parody of one.  It’s a fine line between irony, satire and mockery.

But “Stillwater” was a very engaging film carried by a talented cast, a well-acted murder mystery with tragic moments.

It is rated R for language and it is playing only in theaters.

Interested in seeing the movie? Watch the video at the top of the page for my full, in-depth review & final rating.

Matt Damon stars as "Bill" in director Tom McCarthy's STILLWATER, a Focus Features release. Credit Jessica Forde / Focus Features Camille Cottin (left) stars as "Virginie" and Matt Damon (right) stars as "Bill"  in director Tom McCarthy's STILLWATER, a Focus Features release. 
Credit Jessica Forde / Focus Features Matt Damon (left) stars as "Bill" and Lilou Siauvaud (right) stars as "Maya" in director Tom McCarthy's STILLWATER, a Focus Features release. Credit Jessica Forde / Focus Features (L to R) Actor Matt Damon, actor Abigail Breslin and director Tom McCarthy on the set of STILLWATER, a Focus Features release. 
Credit Jessica Forde / Focus Features Matt Damon stars in "Stillwater," opening in theaters on July 30, 2021.


Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth is the movie and pop culture guy for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out some of his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on

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Review: ‘Stillwater’ Runs Deep Thanks To Great Performances, Intriguing Story