In ‘Stillwater,’ Matt Damon bridges Oklahoma and France

CANNES – The established-up of Tom McCarthy’s “Stillwater” seems quite Liam Neeson.

Matt Damon stars as a difficult, terse Oklahoma father who travels to Marseille, France, to take a look at his jailed daughter (Abigail Breslin), who has been imprisoned for her job in a scandalous Amanda Knox-styled murder scenario. Damon, a gruff, doing the job-course roughneck, sticks all around to find justice for his daughter and obtain a secret male who could have been the real killer.

McCarthy, the director of “Spotlight,” “Win Win” and “The Station Agent,” experienced lengthy pursued Damon for a single of his flicks. In “Stillwater,” he knew audiences would arrive in anticipating Damon as a quintessentially American hero.

“I have a quite certain set of expertise,” Damon, performing his most gravelly Neeson, jokes when sitting together with McCarthy in an job interview.

“Stillwater,” while, is more than it might seem. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and will open in North American theaters on July 30, is an anomaly — a U.S.-Euro hybrid set just down the coastline from Cannes nonetheless 1 of the major American movies at this year’s pageant. As “Stillwater” progresses, it usually takes its premise in unpredictable instructions, turning the American-overseas thriller on its head.


“It’s a motion picture that owes as much to American storytelling as it does to European storytelling,” states McCarthy.

“It’s not the fish-out-of-drinking water tale that you’d hope from Hollywood,” suggests Damon. “He’s like the opposite of Bourne.”

Intrigued at building a Mediterranean noir, McCarthy to start with wrote a easier model of the movie 10 several years ago. He returned to the script in the slide of 2016 about the election of Donald Trump. Damon’s character does not definitively say he’s a Trump supporter, but it is implied. But McCarthy desired to increase the movie’s horizons he brought in a pair of French writers — Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré — to mix the movie additional authentically with France.

In Marseille, Damon’s character, Monthly bill, befriends a community one mother (played by the French actress Camille Cottin, star of “Call My Agent” and her younger daughter Maya performed by Lilou Siauvaud) and little by little, reluctantly starts to adapt and, probably, extend his quite ethnocentric point of view. The movie’s refined concern: Can a nationalistic, slim-minded American transform his techniques? Oui or non?


The generation, by itself, wasn’t so distinct. It was mainly shot in Marseille with a typically neighborhood crew. Shortly soon after premiering the film in Cannes, they returned to Marseille to display it.

“Too quite a few situations American flicks pitch their tent,” states McCarthy. “Thank you, Pedro. Thank you, Francoise. Stay around there.”

“Stillwater” could be seen as Hollywood’s version of a Center The us newspaper profile, the sort that will get composed a great deal throughout election seasons. But the filmmakers produced an energy to get beyond clichés. In advance of taking pictures the film, Damon and McCarthy took a pre-generation trip to Oklahoma for, as McCarthy states, “three times in a truck and a good deal of barbeque” to get a feeling of the region’s character. Both equally arrived again with a new being familiar with.

“It was coming at a time where we were being super polarized. My French co-writers employed to say: You ended up so offended when we were being crafting this,” McCarthy claims. “Even when I started out going (to Oklahoma) assumed: ‘What am I likely to get?’ And these men have been just great. When I bought back, I was so angry at politicians.”


“The film has huge empathy for Bill, and so do we,” suggests Damon. “Anytime you participate in a purpose, you have to have a deep comprehending of why your character does what they do. I actually really feel like we obtained that from our time down there. I appeared at it like: This is a wonderful everyday living and society. They stay totally different from (Damon gestures to himself and McCarthy) fellas who dwell in New York and the way I grew up in Boston.”

Damon had his personal fish-out-h2o working experience in the early times of the pandemic, when he and his household stayed in a modest coastal Irish village. The townspeople turned charmingly protecting of the star in their midst.

“I’m a great deal a lot more taken treatment of than Monthly bill by any local community I parachute into,” suggests Damon. “People are inclined to just be truly wonderful and open and helpful.”

Marseille, a bustling and multicultural port city, also infatuated Damon. If he were being more youthful and living in France, he’d transfer there, he says. But is Damon’s French any superior than Bill’s? In the motion picture, Monthly bill not often receives additional than a couple French words out. “Hell yeah, ça va,” he states with a strong Oklahoman accent.


“It’s possibly even worse,” Damon states sheepishly.

“Actually much even worse,” laughs McCarthy.

“Stillwater” debuted to potent reviews at Cannes and early Oscar nominations speculation for Damon’s lead effectiveness. Generated by Participant Media and distributed by Concentrate Characteristics, it will consider to stoke curiosity as a theatrical release that appeals to equally blue states and pink, American moviegoers and European types. It’s an ever more uncommon type of movie: a star-fronted drama for older people from an authentic plan, designed for theaters.

At the premiere, Damon was moved to tears at merely getting again in a whole motion picture theater.

“It was completely too much to handle,” Damon suggests. “It was a truly impressive reminder of observing points on the little display screen in my property, what the expertise is of sitting down with a thousand people who are strangers and viewing this point and getting it together — and why we do that. And why it’s so contrary to the other thing. You are hunting at the exact same quote-unquote ‘content,’ but it’s not the very same. It is a variety of worship. It is like church. And I forgot how good that felt.”


But finding “Stillwater” produced wasn’t uncomplicated. When the manufacturing finances went higher than envisioned, McCarthy had to pull again on the crew sizing throughout shooting. His department heads requested why their teams have been acquiring smaller.

“On 1 of the calls, an individual reported, ‘It feels like we’re building an unbiased film,’” states McCarthy. “I was like: ‘No, we’re earning a European motion picture.’”


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