8/10 Loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox (much to her disapproval), “Stillwater” is Academy Award winning director Tom McCarthy’s return to form and his best work since his Oscar winning “Spotlight” took home Best Picture. While not as strong as “Spotlight”, “Stillwater” is a strong, emotional drama that takes its time, packs a punch, delivers some great performances and doesn’t fall into some clichés that you’d expect it to. Even though the film’s trailer gives away a bit too much for my liking and the main plot line goes where you think it will, the subplots were actually what got me caught up in the film and more invested in the characters. Although Matt Damon puts in fine work, it is the females that put in all of the attention grabbing work. Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin and cutest child actor ever, Lilou Siauvaud bring a lot of heart and grounded emotion to the story. While Damon is great, I will admit his character lacked a little bit of personality, despite his newfound devotion as a father trying to rescue his daughter. The film is just under two and a half hours and although that running time sounds long, due to the strong pacing, you will be invested and interested the entire time as McCarthy doesn’t have any fat he could cut from the film. Many audiences today have short attention spans and grow impatient easily so I enjoy longer films that develop their characters and don’t feel rushed. If a film is great, the running time shouldn’t matter. It is only when a terrible film is long (i.e.- essentially every “Transformers” movie) that you will truly suffer. Luckily, “Stillwater” asks you to remain patient but rewards you with a strong script and some exciting moments. The score and soundtrack were not huge parts of the film but they were both effective in their limited use. As for what doesn’t work, as I stated earlier, the main plot goes the way you would expect it to, Damon’s character is a little one note and the film lacks replayability. Although it was great, it isn’t the kind of film I would have a strong desire to revisit unless I was doing a Tom McCarthy filmography viewing. Minor flaws aside, the well written script packed with emotion, some terrific and heart felt performances and solid pacing that lets the film naturally unfold could be an Oscar contender later this year, depending upon its competition.

#GoodBillHunting / #StillDaughter / #LittleMissJailTime / #DefinitelyMaybeInnocent / #Convictus / #PrettyFarFromOK

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