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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Can This Daughter Be Saved?
by James Colt Harrison

Matt Damon is one of the most popular film stars in the world. His movies have raked in more than $3 billion dollars at the world box-office. There seems to be no end in sight to his popularity. Stillwater, his latest film – directed by Tom McCarthy ( Oscar® for Spotlight) -- should please his many fans.

This new movie follows a man determined to save his daughter’s life. Damon plays a roughneck oil worker named Bill Baker from Oklahoma. Fortunately, Damon is good with getting accents down perfectly. He studied oil workers in Oklahoma, how they walk, talk and act. Being the ultimate actor, he uses his observations to create characters who are real and not false for one minute. Audiences believe Damon because he becomes the character. There is never a moment of doubt that he is a man from Oklahoma, a tough man who is gentle and good in his heart.

Baker must travel to Marseilles, France, in order to save his daughter from prison. She has been jailed and is a suspect in her girlfriend’s death. They were romantically involved at college, but she swears she didn’t kill the woman. A mysterious boy named Amin (Idir Azougli) has the answer to the story, but he must be found.

Baker does everything he can to help clear his daughter Virginie, played by the capable young actress Abigail Breslin. He inadvertently meets Allison, a French woman portrayed by actress Camille Cottin, who speaks French and can help him with any legal hurdles. She also has an adorable little girl named Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). Baker immediately is crazy about Maya  and vice versa. She teaches him the names of tools, and he rattles away in English, with her pretending to understand what he is saying. Maya is like  a breath of fresh air in this otherwise tense film. With nowhere else to go, Camille offers Baker a room in her apartment, and they become like a family with all three caring for each other.

The film becomes somewhat of a thriller when Baker looks desperately for the boy Amin, a wild young man who knows what really happened to Virginie’s girlfriend the night she was killed. Meeting up with some ruffians who know where Amin is hiding, Baker gets used as a punching bag and ends up severely beaten. But this does not deter him from finding the truth. He more or less must take the law into his own hands because the authorities are of no help to him. Top lawyer (Ann Le Ny) does not give him any hope, which is another blockade that enflames Baker.

Desperate people do desperate things, and Baker is no different than any human being trying to save his child’s life. It’s at this point the film ratchets up and becomes a true thriller and a great mystery. What will happen next?

This is probably one of Damon’s best acting roles in recent years. He really becomes Bill Baker, dresses like he would in Oklahoma, sounds like him, and appears to be a good man inside. Stillwater should be considered one of the best films of 2021 when the accolades are announced. And it’s highly  enjoyable.

(Released by Focus Features and rated "R" by MPAA.)

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