Matt Damon is no stranger to having #1 films and his latest has hit that top spot on Amazon.
Stillwater is the Matt Damon film based on the true-life story of Amanda Know, which we definitely will delve into a bit later.
Matt Damon stars as Bill Baker, an oil worker living in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Bill is on his way to Marseille, France, to visit his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) who has, for the past four years, serving time in prison for the convicted murder of her roommate and unfaithful lover, Lina. It is clear early on that Bill, as well as Allison’s grandmother Sharon (Deanna Dunagan), has been to Marseille numerous times to visit her in prison.
When Bill visits Allison, she gives him a note, written in French, that she wishes Bill to pass along to her French lawyer. After reading the note, Allison’s lawyer Leparq, informs Bill that Allison has learned information that could exonerate her. Seeing that she previously tried all she could to clear Allison, Leparq refuses to investigate or even try to reopen the case.
Frustrated, Bill takes the note to a local resident, Virginie, whom he helped out earlier, asking her to translate the note for him. Virginie explains that the note gives information to Allison about one of Allison’s university professors, Patrick, who says he has second-hand information about a man claiming to be Lina’s killer.
Knowing he can’t get Leparq to change her mind, Bill decides to investigate himself. His investigations lead to Patrick, who then turns him toward an acquaintance of Lina’s supposed killer, a young man named Akim. Things don’t go well for Bill when he first approaches Akim at the housing project where Akim lives. Akim is able to escape while Akim’s associates beat Bill. Thinking he destroyed her one and only chance to get out of prison, Allison tells Bill never to return.
Four months later we find that Bill has remained in Marseille and has not stopped looking for Akim. One night at an Olympique de Marseille soccer match Bill, who is there with Virginie’s daughter Maya, spots Akim in the crowd. After the match, Bill puts a sleeping Maya in his truck, then finds Akim, incapacitating the young man and shoving him into the camper shell.
With the young many now being held in the basement, Bill goes about looking for answers. He provides a hair sample of Akim’s to a private investigator, who matches it to a DNA sample taken at the scene of the crime. When Bill confronts Akim once again, Akim’s shocking confession rattles Bill to his core. This is nothing compared to what Bill will be faced to deal with when all is said and done.
Stillwater was brought to the screen by director Tom McCarthy, who also co-wrote the script along with Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain, and Noé Debré. As mentioned earlier, the movie is based on the Amanda Knox story, and this is where the controversy begins.
Amanda Knox was an American college student studying in Perugia, Italy. In 2007, she was living with roommate Meredith Kercher but was spending a lot of time with her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. She had come home with Sollecito, after the two had spent the night together at Sollecito’s, to an open front door. When they inspected the apartment, they found blood in the bathroom and Kercher’s door locked. After a period of time, the police arrived to break down Meredith’s door, where they found her stabbed to death. Knox and Sollecito were then arrested for her murder.
Knox spent four years in an Italian prison, claiming her innocence. After two trials and two convictions, Knox was finally released (as was Sollecito) when evidence finally found that known burglar, Rudy Guede, was responsible for the crime.
Over the years since the crime and Knox’s eventual release, her story has been told in many ways. Most have been “based on.” Knox, who claims all these “based on” stories continue to damage to her even though she was finally proven innocent.
Stillwater is no different. When the film was released, Knox took to Twitter to air her grievances. Her first Tweet read – “Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER.”
She then went on a long Twitter rant that covers no less than 30 Tweets to talk about what she’s had to deal with since her release.
As for McCarthy, he did acknowledge that the Amanda Knox case was the impetus for Stillwater. “There were so many characters around the case that I really followed pretty closely,” he said to Vanity Fair. “But really the first thing that I took away from it was, what would that be like as an American student to go over [to Europe] for what should be one of the most exciting moments in a young-adult life and to find yourself in that tragedy? There were just so many layers to that story that kept anyone who was following pretty riveted…. We decided, ‘Hey, let’s leave the Amanda Knox case behind,’ but let me take this piece of the story—an American woman studying abroad involved in some kind of sensational crime and she ends up in jail—and fictionalize everything around it.”
As for Matt Damon, he hasn’t addressed Knox’s claims or complaints. He is currently trying to defend himself from a certain homophobic slur he used when speaking with his daughter. Damon has since had to deal with a huge social media firestorm and respond with an apology toward the LGBTQ+ community.
Other than Stillwater, the Academy Award-winning (Good Will Hunting) actor/writer will next be seen in The Last Duel, where he will reunite with his lifelong friend, co-writer, and co-star, Ben Affleck. The duo is both starring in the film and co-wrote the script. There is also a rumor that Matt Damon looks to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, reprising his role as Actor Loki in the upcoming Marvel film, Thor: Love and Thunder.
Stillwater, while also in movie theaters, can also be seen streaming on Amazon.