Sunday, 12 September 2021



Run Deep

USA 2021
Directed by Tom McCarthy

Okay, just a short review of a long but solid film. I’ve been wanting to see Stillwater since I first caught a trailer for it in my local cinema a couple of months ago. I have a soft spot for Matt Damon since seeing him in films like The Bourne Identity and Dogma although, I don’t exactly go and see everything he’s in. I think he’s a remarkable actor though and I think sometimes he could do better with his choice of roles. And, heck, this movie is definitely one of his better choices.

Stillwater refers to a place in Ohio where Damon’s character, Bill, lives and works in construction... when he can’t get work digging holes for oil rigs. However, five years before this movie begins, his daughter Alison, played by Abigail Breslin (Little Rock in the Zombieland movies), is accused and found guilty of murdering her Arabian girlfriend, where she’s studying in Marseilles in France. Just after this movie starts, Bill goes to Marseiiles to visit his partially estranged daughter in jail and it’s then that he gets hooked into the possibility his daughter brings up of some new evidence that might prove her innocence and name the real murderer of the girl.

So, not being a rich person and unable to interest either his daughter's lawyers or being able to afford a private detective, he stays in Marseilles, picking up construction work there and tries to clear his daughter’s name himself. In the process he is befriended by an actress, Virginie, played by Camille Cottin (who can help him translate stuff as he doesn’t speak a word of French) and her young daughter Maya, played by Lilou Siauvaud, who he becomes a kind of father figure to.

And that’s really all I want to say because a) I don’t want to spoil it for you and b) because you will probably reach your own conclusions about how the story is going to go way before many of the characters cotton onto what’s going to happen. I will say, though, that  it’s a very dramatic film and the actors are all absolutely amazing in this. Damon fleshes out his ‘roughneck’ character as being a deeply religious man and someone who is busy redeeming himself for his past sins and trying to do the right thing by both his daughter and himself.

The photography on this one uses a lot of hand held camera stuff. It’s not especially jerky or unwatchable in any way but it’s one of those kinds of movies where the camera is responsive to capturing details and actors as they come up and following through the impetus of the shot accordingly, rather than using either big sweeping movement or, indeed, all that many static shots. What this means is that the film projects a kind of voyeuristic, fly on the wall atmosphere which is surprisingly not ruined by the great Mychael Danna’s low key score when it kicks in for the odd scene or two, here and there. This makes for some very immersive viewing and, despite it’s length, it never fails to be anything but an interesting and compelling drama.

Now, there is one thing which is a shame, in that there really are no surprises in the movie. You will probably twig both a certain ‘third act’ plot twist way before it comes along and you’ll probably figure out how and where the various characters are going to end up before the story’s finish. Sometimes this can ruin a movie but, I would say that in this case it really doesn’t do much damage and, well, sometimes the expected endings are clung on to because they happen to be the ones that work the best. It’s a shame, though, that one of the scenes near the end of the movie, where there is supposed to be a lot of suspense and tension, is kind of booby trapped by a shot a few minutes before which suggests that one of the key characters is not under as much threat as they themselves think they are. Which was a shame but, like I said, didn’t really harm the film any.

So, yeah, I said this was a short review and I meant it. Stillwater was an entertaining slice of life style drama which is mostly effective and which certainly entertains. It does kind of have that ‘Hollywood trying to take itself too seriously’ stamp on it but, again, it doesn’t harm the final product and it’s an enjoyable watch. It felt to me like it’s one of those films which Jack Nicholson that might have latched onto and won and Oscar for in the early 1970s like Five Easy Pieces and Matt Damon does a very good job of that kind of part. Definitely one to catch if you like those sort of dramas. I’m really glad I got to see this one. 

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