Thursday, September 09, 2021
Matt Damon meets “Ice Eyes”
“Stillwater” is reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case
By Volker Probst
The movie “Stillwater” is first and foremost one thing: a great thriller, especially thanks to its great lead actor Matt Damon. But it could also be something else: a parable on the spectacular criminal case Amanda Knox. Either way, it is worth seeing.
Matt Damon will be 51 years old in October. So it is high time for the former warrior from the “Bourne” series or films like “Departed” and “The Good Shepherd” to switch to the character subject. He gets the opportunity to do so in “Stillwater” by “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy.
In the film, Damon slips into the role of a seemingly unsophisticated hillbilly named Bill Baker from the US hinterland in Oklahoma. He’s an oil rig worker, wearing a goatee, baseball cap, plaid shirt, and wrangler jeans. He has a tummy and some difficulties in articulating and socializing. Especially when he sets off from his home town of Stillwater to distant Marseille. The language and customs in the French Mediterranean city are completely alien to him.
A dangerous network
But there is a weighty reason for his trips to Europe. His daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) has been in prison here for years. When she came to France to study, she soon fell in love with another young woman named Lina. When Lina is found murdered one day, everything points to Allison as the perpetrator. She is therefore sentenced to nine years in prison.
However, Allison insists on her innocence. And her father is also firmly convinced that she has nothing to do with the death of her former friend, especially since a new suspect suddenly appears on the scene with a boy named Akim from a socially deprived district in Marseille. However, Allison’s former lawyer Leparq (Anne Le Ny) does not believe in this theory and refuses to reopen the case. Bill Baker therefore decides to investigate on his own. With the support of his chance acquaintance Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), he is not only gradually thawing, he is also becoming increasingly entangled in a dangerous web of intrigues, vigilante justice and (false) suspicions …
“What about my life?”
Tom McCarthy won an Oscar in 2016 for the screenplay for “Spotlight”. At that time he was guided by real events around a team from the newspaper “The Boston Globe”, which had uncovered cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. With “Stillwater” too, memories of a completely real case are now awakened – that of Amanda Knox, who achieved notoriety as the “angel with the eyes of ice”. Knox was initially convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007, before she was acquitted eight years later in the last instance.
McCarthy admits that the events surrounding Knox inspired him to create Stillwater. But nothing more. The now 34-year-old is anything but enthusiastic about having sparked a Hollywood flick. “Is my name mine? My face? What about my life? My story?”
More than a thriller
No question: for Knox the unexpected confrontation with her own fate on the big screen is likely to be uncomfortable. It remains to be seen whether the parallels to her case would have been discussed in a really great way without all the fanfare. The fact that “Stillwater” is told entirely from the perspective of the father makes for some demarcation from the events in the Causa Knox.
If you just close the “ice eyes”, the bottom line is a great thriller, which is mainly carried by its great actors. Not only Damon should be mentioned, from whom the backwoods are always bought completely with the heart in the right place. Camille Cottin and Lilou Siauvaud also contribute a lot to the success of the flick, which is not only exciting, but also highlights the relationship between the USA and Europe in difficult times.
“Stillwater” is now in German cinemas.