Presented out of competition this Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, the film Stillwater propels Matt Damon from Oklahoma to Marseille, to the rescue of his imprisoned daughter.
She is the first major American star to walk the red carpet at this 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Matt Damon is at Cannes 2021 to present Stillwater, an intimate, thriller-like drama directed by Tom McCarthy (Spotlight). The star of Will hunting It plays Bill, a silent and taciturn man, working on oil rigs in Oklahoma. One day, he decides to make the trip to France, to Marseille, where his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin, the former child star of Little miss sunshine) is imprisoned for a murder she claims not to have committed. In an attempt to exonerate him, Bill is ready to move heaven and earth but finds himself blocked by the language barrier and a legal system different from that of the United States. He meets Virginie (Camille Cottin), an actress and single mother who will help him in his efforts.
Unexpected filming locations
For the French actress, this is not a first in a Hollywood film, since she already had a secondary role in Allies by Robert Zemeckis, alongside Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt. In the role of his little girl, the very young Lilou Siauvaud is a revelation. But another character takes the lion’s share, it is obviously the city of Marseille, where about 80% of the film was shot. Rather than playing on the clichés of the Phocaean city, Tom McCarthy chose to film certain places of the city that we are not used to seeing in the cinema, let alone Hollywood. Alleys, car parks, hotels located in the districts of Lestaque or Bonneveine. Places that are not always glamorous but which lend a welcome authenticity and urgency to the quest for this father on a redemption mission. One of the most iconic places in the film is the Baumettes prison, where Allison is locked up. “We filmed in an abandoned part of the prison, which has a lot of character. We made a few minor adjustments but we really didn’t change much” explains production designer Philip Messina.
An impressive scene at the Stade Vélodrome
For the scenes taking place in the city where Bill goes, the production chose Kallisté, in the northern districts of the city. “There was a tower that was about to be destroyed, so workers were throwing beds, furniture and other items out the window. It was an awesome environment. What struck us, Tom McCarthy and I, during our first spotting, is that during the day, the place is rather banal, whereas everything changes at night … “ details Philip Messina. The famous Calanques are also the scene of several sequences of the film. But the scene that inevitably marks the spirits is the one that Matt Damon shot in September 2019 at the Velodrome stadium, during a meeting between Olympique de Marseille and Saint-Etienne. A real technical tour de force, as the director explains: “We shot it on multiple cameras to capture the atmosphere. And then we filmed the close-ups and other shots on a day when the stadium was empty.”
Matt Damon seduced by Marseille
Thanks to his goatee and his baseball cap, Matt Damon almost went unnoticed in the spans of the stadium: “If we have never attended a football match in Europe, it’s really worth it, enthuses the actor. In Marseille, it was frankly delusional and jubilant. It’s great from the Stade de have given us permission to shoot there. “ The actor of Jason bourne fell under the spell of the second largest city in France: “Marseille is sublime, and as soon as you leave the city, you discover the Calanques, this series of magnificent coves that the sea has carved out over the years. I hope this film will give the feeling of being a declaration of love in Marseille because it is a unique city in the world. “