“Stillwater” (Focus)

Matt Damon stars in a scene from the film "Stillwater." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Jessica Forde, courtesy Focus Features)

By Catholic News Service

Five years after his college-age daughter (Abigail Breslin), an exchange student, was imprisoned in Marseille for the murder of her lesbian lover, a crime of which she insists she is innocent, an unemployed and widowed oil-rig worker (Matt Damon) from the Oklahoma city of the title relocates to the French port to follow up a new lead in the case, eventually bonding with the single mother (Camille Cottin) and young girl (Lilou Siauvaud) with whom he lodges. But his prospects for emotional fulfillment are threatened by the rashness with which he is willing to act to find the real culprit behind the killing.

Directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy, the bleak yet touching drama is effective on a personal level as it examines the strained relationship between the protagonist parent and his alienated adult child and as a study of the clash between the values of the American heartland and those of Europe, including the piety displayed by Damon’s character to the mildly amused bewilderment of those around him. Its brief forays into overtly political territory are far feebler.

Mature themes, including homosexuality and suicide, cohabitation, a premarital bedroom scene, a few mild oaths, frequent rough and crude language, some crass expressions. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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