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Tom McCarthy
Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin
Writing Credits:
Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain

A father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter, who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn't commit.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend:
$5,188,150 on 2531 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 139 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 10/26/2021

• “An Alchemy of Viewpoints” Featurette
• “An American in Marseille” Featurette
• “With Curiosity and Compassion” Featurette
• DVD Copy


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Stillwater [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 2, 2021)

Based on its title, I thought 2021’s Stillwater brought a prequel to 2000’s Almost Famous, one that focused on the movie’s featured band. Instead, the film brings a drama about what a father will do to help his daughter.

Bill Baker (Matt Damon) lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he struggles to find work. He also remains distracted by the plight of his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin).

Five years earlier, French courts convicted Allison of murder, but Bill believes his daughter didn’t commit the crime. With four years left in her sentence, Bill continues to attempt to prove her innocence, so he travels to Marseille to pursue this cause.

Stillwater becomes director Tom McCarthy’s first big-screen release since 2015’s Oscar-winning Spotlight. McCarthy also made a children’s flick for streaming in 2020, but Stillwater takes him back to his dramatic wheelhouse.

Stillwater came and went from theaters without much of an impact, so I doubt it’ll repeat the Oscar love McCarthy enjoyed for Spotlight. I can’t view this as a problem, though, for Stillwater offers a pretty mediocre experience.

Much of the issue stems from the film’s odd lack of focus. Based on the plot synopsis, one might expect Stillwater to bring a drama related mainly to Bill’s attempts to prove Allison’s innocence.

While that does become an important aspect of the movie, much more of Stillwater focuses on “fish out of water” elements connected to Bill in France as well as his burgeoning relationship with single mother Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). Indeed, the latter becomes arguably the story’s dominant element.

Some of this goes a long way, and the emphasis on Bill’s personal life means the movie comes without much dramatic tension. It covers a lot of ground but it doesn’t get into much of this especially well.

That becomes a surprise given the movie’s length. With 139 minutes at its disposal, Stillwater seems to enjoy enough time to explore a mix of domains, but it can’t dig into them with much substance.

A lot of Stillwater feels like a slow personal drama about Bill’s path to redemption, but it doesn’t dig into this topic well enough to sustain our attention. In addition, we know we’ll get various plot twists related to Allison, so the focus on Bill’s domestic life seems even more tedious.

Damon offers a pretty good performance as our lead, and the others prove more than adequate as well. If nothing else, I can’t fault the actors for the film’s flaws.

Nonetheless, the cast can’t overcome the inherent drudgery of Stillwater. Too long and too slow, the movie fails to develop compelling drama.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Stillwater appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness worked well. The occasional wider shot betrayed a little softness, but the majority of the movie came with solid accuracy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors tended toward orange/amber and teal. Within those constraints, the hues seemed well-rendered, even if they didn’t feel creative.

Blacks looked deep and dark, while shadows offered nice delineation. The movie came with a more than adequate image.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed perfectly workable for this kind of character piece. Though the movie concentrated on those roles, its various settings allowed it to open up to a decent degree.

This meant the streets of Marseille created a nice sense of place and space. Nothing here exactly validated your decision to buy an expensive home theater, but the soundfield felt appropriate.

Audio quality worked fine as well. The spare score showed nice warmth and range, as did the low-key effects. Those seemed accurate and offered good clarity.

Speech remained natural and concise. Again, the mix never excelled, but it did what it needed to do for this story.

Three featurettes appear, An Alchemy of Viewpoints runs five minutes, 17 seconds and offers comments from wrier/director Tom McCarthy, producer Jonathan King, costume designer Karen Muller Serreau, and actors Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Lilou Siauvaud and Abigail Breslin.

“Alchemy” discusses the depiction of various characters. It becomes a decent but lackluster overview.

An American in Marseille goes for three minutes, 15 seconds and features McCarthy, Damon, Breslin and Cottin. We learn about locations in this semi-superficial summary.

Finally, With Curiosity and Compassion fills three minutes, 25 seconds with info from King, Damon, McCarthy, Breslin, Cottin, and producer Liza Chasin. The show tells us a little about the film’s development but it mostly praises McCarthy, so don’t expect much from it.

The disc opens with ads for Old, Roadrunner and Candyman (2021). No trailer for Stillwater appears here.

As a story of a man’s attempts to find justice for his daughter, Stillwater feels oddly free from drama or tension. It takes too long to get where it needs to go and fails to keep the viewer especially absorbed along the way. The Blu-ray comes with positive picture and audio but it skimps on bonus materials. Without the substance it needs, this becomes a disappointing tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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