Anti-hero Matt Damon brings thug America to Cannes

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Cannes (France) (AFP)

Matt Damon brought a slice of redneck middle America to Cannes on Friday with “Stillwater,” a film about a stranded oil worker who seeks to save his daughter and their damaged relationship.

It’s a very French story from the start: takes place in Marseille on the south coast of France, produced with a predominantly French crew and French co-writers, and starring local star Camille Cottin of fame from ” Call My Agent “.

The process even turned the American director of the film into fans of the local football team.

“Sometimes American filmmakers come to Europe or France to make a film and they pitch their tent and keep French filmmakers out,” Oscar-winning director Tom McCarthy told AFP.

“But we said, ‘We can’t do that here,'” he said. “It’s really a collaboration, a meeting of cinema cultures.”

Damon plays Bill Baker, an Oklahoma oil rig worker who travels to Marseille to help his daughter who is in jail for a murder she says she didn’t commit.

He doesn’t speak French and his bulky figure, baseball cap, plaid shirts and old-fashioned jeans make him stand out in the Mediterranean coastal town like a caricature of an American tourist from the Midwest.

“He comes from the heart of Trump country, he is really part of that culture,” Matt Damon told AFP in an interview.

– “Precious thugs” –

“Looks like this will be the standard Hollywood setup, a father is going to exonerate his daughter, help his daughter and he’ll end up using his skills to do it,” Damon said.

“But it’s really a reversal of that because the guy doesn’t have any skills. He doesn’t understand the language, he doesn’t understand the culture. He doesn’t really understand where he is.”

Damon said he went to great lengths to make his character look decent, spending time with the oil workers to get their advice on clothing, eating the same food as them and training for them. to gain weight.

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“We hung out with these thugs, who were just priceless,” Damon said. “They’d say, no, it’s that type of blue jeans, because they have a flame retardant. And it’s that shirt, not that one. It’s almost like a uniform,” Damon said.

He gained weight for the role “because they’re really big guys. The stuff they pick up is heavy. I’m in good shape, but lifting the things that they lift, I would go, oh my god,” he mentioned.

– ‘Incredible heart’ –

McCarthy and his team invested similar efforts to make the Marseille shoot as authentic as possible.

“In many ways, it’s my most structurally complicated movie,” said McCarthy, whose movie “Spotlight” won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Shot almost entirely on site, it includes a key scene shot at the Stade Vélodrome, the stadium of the Olympique de Marseille (OM), during a real match, which he said was unforgettable.

“They are a team with an incredible heart and incredible fans. The energy in this stadium and the filming there, it was two special nights,” said McCarthy.

The director said that the main character of his film was looking for redemption without achieving it, and admitted that the same was true of Olympique de Marseille who, disappointingly, only finished the last season of Ligue 1 until in fifth place.

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“It’s been a long struggle for redemption at OM,” said McCarthy. “And now also for the France team, but we will not go there,” he added, referring to France’s shock exit from Euro 2021.

Although premiering at Cannes, “Stillwater” performs out of competition at the festival, which runs until July 17.

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