Stillwater stars Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin in lead roles.
Stillwater stars Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin in lead roles.

Cannes Film Festival 2021: Matt Damon plays a desperate father in Stillwater

  • Stillwater sees Matt Damon as a Oklahoma oil-rig worker whose daughter gets imprisoned in France after being convicted of killing her ex-girlfriend while studying abroad.
PUBLISHED ON JUL 14, 2021 03:46 PM IST

The Matt Damon-starrer Stillwater, part of the ongoing Cannes Film Festival, is set in the French port city of Marseille and its flavour has been captured with sensitivity and imagination.

Matt is just superb as an Oklahoma oil-rig worker, whose messy past seems to have cast a shadow on his young daughter, imprisoned for a murder she swears she did not commit. His most pressing mission is to get his daughter out of the jail in Marseille. Daughter (Abigail Breslin) is imprisoned for murder in France, after being convicted of killing her ex-girlfriend while studying abroad. As years and expensive lawyers add up, Matt’s character Bill Baker works tirelessly to prove his child’s innocence and befriends a single mother (Camille Cottin) and her daughter (Lilou Siauvaud) along the way.

Matt began the press meet following the film's screening by saying, by way of intro, "what we perceive as America today…."

The movie's central point is the father-daughter relationship, and Matt Damon avered that since he has kids he felt a strong empathy for his character. “Since I’ve had kids things are a lot more available in my job, emotionally speaking; I don’t have to reach so much.”

“Every parent feels terrible when something goes wrong with their children. A parent always loves his/her child and a child always loves its parent; they’re both messed up in their own unique way,” Matt elaborated.

Matt Damon in a still from the film.
Matt Damon in a still from the film.

When asked that Matt's character did not vote at the recent US presidential elections and if he would have had he been able to, he replied: "Creating the geo-political protagonist was crucial and noting that men like his character don’t apologise for what they are or what they believe.”

But now came the tricky part of the conference, when a journalist asked about Stillwater's link to Amanda Knox. Amanda is an American woman who spent almost four years in an Italian prison following her conviction for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a fellow exchange student who shared her apartment. In 2015, Amanda was acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.

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Director Tom McCarthy took this question. “I was pretty fascinated with the Amanda Knox case, I kept up with it, but the origin of my film's premise came from a father and daughter and their strained relationship...I’m a pessimist when it comes to systems,” he noted, however the director admitted that he was taken aback by how different it is to the US system.

Matt clarified that Stillwater is “not an American movie, not a French film, but a hybrid work”.

(Written by Gautaman Bhaskaran)

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