STILLWATER*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Alex
Bill Baker (Matt Damon) is an oil rig worker in Stillwater, Oklahoma who has been laid off. He goes about his life, interviews for part-time construction work, and stops by the home of his former mother-in-law, Sharon (Deanna Dunagan), who is sick and has an oxygen tank. He helps her out around the house, and she gives him some items to bring to his daughter who he is set to visit. He goes to his daughter’s room (which is in Sharon’s home, not his) and gets some of her photos to take to her. He goes to the airport and sees a gold “Stillwater” necklace in the gift shop.
Bill travels to Marseille, France, and checks in to a Best Western where the staff all know him – he is clearly a returning guest. As he tries to sleep, the music from next door keeps him awake. He goes to the balcony and asks the woman next door if she can turn the music down, but the woman says she doesn’t speak English. Bill puts together a care package and goes to the prison to make a visit – the logbook shows him making multiple visits to the place. He waits and is finally allowed a visit with his daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), who has been convicted of murder. Allison went abroad during school and when her girlfriend Lina was found murdered, Allison was charged in a case that became a big story. The media was convinced of her guilt, but Allison has maintained her innocence and so has Bill. Allison said Lina had been with another person that night, Akim. Allison has been in jail for years now and years more to go.
Allison gives Bill a letter to give to her lawyer and tells him it’s extremely important. She makes him promise to deliver it and he swears he will. He goes to see the lawyer but she is unavailable and so he refuses to leave it for her, choosing instead to return when she is free to make sure he can read it. At the hotel, Bill notices a young child, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud) sitting outside the door of the room next to his and surmises she is locked out, so he brings her to the front desk to help her get another key for her room. Later, he meets with Allison’s lawyer, Mrs. LeParq (Anne Le Ny), who reads the letter Allison wrote, which is in French. She tells Bill that Allison has exhausted all of her legal options and he should not give her false hope – she says she can’t help with the matter.
Back at the hotel, the neighbor from the balcony, Virginie (Camille Cottin), comes over to thank Bill for helping her daughter Maya. Bill notes she does speak English after all, and he apologizes. Virginie explains that she and Maya are staying in the hotel for a few days because they are moving apartments and the new one isn’t ready. She tells Bill if there’s anything she can do for him to let her know, and he asks her to translate Allison’s letter. Virginie does so – realizing while reading it exactly who Bill and Allison are. The letter tells LeParq that one of Allison’s professors let her know that a student in his outreach program said they overheard someone bragging about stabbing someone and getting away with it. The letter asks LeParq to please investigate this lead since Bill surely can’t be trusted to handle anything.
Bill returns to LeParq’s office to ask for help and is told by another person working there that LeParq was clear that they were done with the case. They offer Bill information for private investigators and Bill becomes angry and leaves. He goes to see other attorneys, some of who barely speak English. He finally meets with a private detective, Dirosa (Moussa Maaskri), who reads the letter. Dirosa, former law enforcement, explains to Bill how difficult this will be – to find the young man if he hasn’t already fled, and get a DNA sample and then match it to the unknown DNA left at the crime scene – he has contacts at the police that can test it. He explains it will be extremely expensive and gives Bill a number – fourteen thousand dollars. Bill scoffs and leaves.
Bill meets with Allison who is eager to know what LeParq had to say. Unable to break her heart, he says that LeParq is investigating, and Allison is overjoyed. At the hotel, Bill gets help from a staff member to look up the professor’s information. He goes to the university and meets with him. The professor gives Bill the contact information of the girl who had the lead on Akim, but says that the girl does not speak any English. Bill asks the professor to translate for him, but he says he cannot be involved, even though he believes Allison could be innocent, simply because of the optics, and wishes him good luck. Bill gets Virginie and Maya’s address from the hotel staff and buys a toy that he brings to give to Maya. He updates Virginie on the situation, and she agrees to contact the girl for him. He offers to help out with some of the plumbing and electric in her new apartment, and she accepts.
Virginie offers to go with Bill to meet with the young woman to translate for him. On the way there, they learn more about each other – Virginie is an actress and doesn’t have much of a relationship with Maya’s father, a fling who lives far away. Bill tells Virginie that Allison’s mother committed suicide and that she lived with her grandmother growing up because Bill was off working on oil rigs. It becomes clear when Virginie asks about him hitting a reporter (Virginie read up on Allison’s case) that Bill also had a serious substance abuse problem. When they meet with the young woman, she has brought a friend, who aggressively tells her not to snitch until she clams up and refuses to talk. Bill tries to press her, but Virginie dissuades him as the situation becomes heated.
Virginie points out to Bill the housing community that the young woman lives in, but says they would be unlikely to talk to him because he is an outsider. Meanwhile, Allison tells Bill that during a meeting with the judge about her potential parole one day a month, she saw someone from LeParq’s office who wasn’t sure about what she was referring to. Bill says he will handle it. Virginie looks up photos from the party that the young woman heard the confession at and prints them out since Akim could be in the photos. She tells Bill to take them to Allison to have her pick him out, but he refuses (since he doesn’t want to reveal to Allison that LeParq isn’t working on the case). Virginie is confused but asks him if anyone else knows what Akim looks like.
Bill remembers the owner of the bar had seen him, and so Virginie and Bill go to meet with him. When shown the pictures of the kids, mostly middle eastern immigrants, the bar owner compares them to Mexicans in America and says he will lie and say it’s any one of them because they are all guilty of something. Horrified by his racism, Virginie leaves, refusing to talk to him anymore. Bill and her get into a fight, with her not understanding how he isn’t upset by that and him saying his job is to get his daughter out of prison. Virginie tells him she’s done helping him and leaves, angry.
Meanwhile, Sharon calls Bill wondering how much LeParq is going to cost now – she says she talked to Allison and Allison said they hired her again. Bill’s answers make no sense, so she says she’s going to call LeParq as Bill pleads with her not to. Running out of time, Bill goes to the prison and meets with Allison, who is confused and angry, and hurt about what is really going on. He just tells her she needs to look at the photos to see if she can find Akim – eventually, she does identify him. Bill takes the photos and goes to the project himself, asking around and showing Akim’s picture – no one helps him. Eventually, a group of young men begins teasing Bill, and it becomes violent, and eventually, the group begins beating Bill up. Akim eventually arrives, and one of the young men shows him the picture and that Bill was looking for him.
Virginie goes to the hospital to see Bill, who is recovering and said he gave the only contact he had. He goes to see Allison and confesses the truth, that LeParq wouldn’t help so he was doing it himself, and it worked, he found Akim. Allison, angry, asks him why he didn’t take the picture and go to the police – now Akim is gone. She can’t believe she let him mess up again and tells him she doesn’t want to talk to him anymore or see him anymore.
Four months later, Bill is still in France, working construction. He lives with Virginie and pays rent. He picks Maya up from school and spends lots of time with her, she assists him in the basement as he makes repairs and fixes. Virginie is casually dating a local theatre director. Meanwhile, LeParq contacts Bill and tells him Allison has been approved to go out on parole one day a month. With no one else to put her in the care of, Bill signs the paperwork vouching to supervise her. He asks Virginie if it’s alright if Allison comes and visits, and she assures him it is.
On parole day, Bill picks Allison up in his construction struck. He explains it is from his new job and that he told her about it, but she says she has not been reading his letters. He takes her to buy flowers and then to Lina’s grave, where Allison lays them. They go to a quiet place by the water, and Allison tells Bill about how she loved Lina but once she let her move in with her Lina started seeing other people and she felt so used, but she just wishes she could see her again right now.
They go to the apartment where Virginie makes dinner for them – at the table, Allison asks them if they’re sleeping together, embarrassing Bill. They both confirm for her that they aren’t. Bill and Maya play and Allison sits and talks with Virginie. She says Bill seems happy, but then she later warns Virginie to be careful, telling her a story of when Bill let all her mother’s belongings get thrown away because he didn’t pay the bill at the storage unit. She says he’s a fuck-up, just like she (Allison) is. When Bill returns Allison to the prison, she hugs him and tells him she’s happy for him.
Bill gets a call later and rushes to the hospital – Allison tried to commit suicide by hanging. When he returns home, Virginie comforts him, and the next day Maya sees they had fallen asleep in the same bed (still clothed in the clothes they were wearing last night). Bill returns to the rhythms of life, spending a lot of time with Maya and even going to one of Virginie’s plays (even though it is in French). Afterward, they have dinner, and they both admit they might like to take their relationship to a new level. They sleep together, and the next day Maya notices them being romantic together.
Bill surprises Maya with tickets to a football match, which she loves. They have a great time at the game but then in the crowd, to his shock, Bill sees Akim. He follows him from the game to a restaurant, Maya with him the whole time. Once she falls asleep, Bill kidnaps Akim, duct tapes him to a chair, and locks him in the basement. He brings Dirosa, who he pays, some of Akim’s hair to do the DNA test. Dirosa is worried, telling Bill if he’s done anything illegal it will only send him to jail and not free his daughter, but Bill simply tells him to get it done. Maya confesses to Bill that she knows about the man in the basement, and Bill tells her it’s a very bad man and asks her to keep it a secret.
The DNA results don’t come back for days, and Bill becomes stressed having to keep Akim in the basement longer than he thought, having to feed him and wait for the results. When Bill goes down to check on him again, Akim pleads with him to let him go and that he was only doing what Allison wanted him to do. He says that Allison paid him with a gold necklace, and Bill doesn’t believe a word he’s saying. Finally, he says “Stillwater” – that the necklace said Stillwater. This shakes Bill, but he duct tapes Akim’s mouth shut and leaves.
Bill calls Sharon to ask if the Stillwater necklace he got for Allison was with her during the trial, but Sharon has no idea what he’s talking about. The next day, Virginie sees Dirosa skulking around outside the apartment. She goes down and he claims to be a building inspector and asks if there has been any noise or smells coming from the basement. She says no and says if he gives her a card she can call him back, suspicious, but he declines. When he leaves, she stares at the basement door.
Bill picks Maya up from school and she asks him if he’s going to kill the bad man. He is horrified, telling her he would never do something like that and would never let any harm come to her or her mother. When they get back to the apartment, they are immediately surrounded by police, who take Maya away and force Bill to unlock the basement. They go down, and Bill expects to be caught, but no one is there. Up in the apartment, the police sit down with Bill, Virginie, and Maya. The lead investigator asks Maya when the last time she went to the basement was, and Maya lies and says yesterday. He warns her not to lie and threatens to take Bill to jail, but Maya again says yesterday, and the police leave.
Virginie – who let Akim go – sends Maya to her room and demands the truth from Bill. He admits what happened, and when he explains that he saw Akim at the game – that he was with Maya – Virginie tells him he needs to leave. He tells her he never wanted to involve them, and Virginie tells him he needs to go immediately. He goes to say goodbye to Maya, but she won’t speak to him. He packs his bags and begins to go, but Virginie brings Maya out and tells her to say goodbye to Bill. They hug each other goodbye and cry.
Bill returns to the Best Western, and LeParq calls him in for a meeting. She says DNA evidence was found matching the crime scene evidence and also matched another burglary – she explains this is very good for Allison. Allison is released and gets a tattoo on her wrist of Lina’s name. They return to Stillwater, where the town holds a celebration for her exoneration and return. After the party, Bill asks Allison if she remembers the necklace he got her at the airport. She cries and admits the truth – she did give it to Akim but she just wanted him to get Lina out of her apartment, she never thought it would happen the way it happened. She cries and asks if he hates her – he tells her he could never, she’s his daughter. Later, they sit on the porch, and Allison says she can’t believe how everything looks exactly the same. She asks him if he agrees, and he says no – it all looks completely different to him now.
Bill Baker (Matt Damon), an oil rig worker from Oklahoma, goes to France to visit his incarcerated daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin). Allison went abroad during school and when her girlfriend Lina was found murdered, Allison was charged in a case that became a big story. The media was convinced of her guilt, but Allison has maintained her innocence and so has Bill. Allison has received a tip on Akim, the man she knows was with Allison that night, and asks Bill to bring it to her lawyer.
When her lawyer won't take the case, Bill begins investigating on his own with the help of a local woman, Virginie (Camille Cottin), eventually locating Akim but losing him. Allison stops speaking to him, but he stays in France and begins living with Virginie and her daughter Maya, who he takes care of and has bonded. Eventually, Bill and Virginie admit their feelings for each other and the three begin living as a quasi-family. When he takes Maya to a football match, he spots Akim in the crowd. He follows and kidnaps him, turning over a lock of hair to a private eye to confirm a DNA match with crime scene DNA. Akim tells Bill that Allison paid him to get rid of Lina with a "Stillwater" necklace. The private investigator tips off the police who come and look in the basement, but Virginie had discovered the truth and freed Akim earlier. Realizing what happened, Virginie tells Bill to leave and he bids Maya a tearful goodbye.
The DNA evidence turns out to be a match and Allison is freed. Home in Stillwater, Bill asks Allison about the necklace and she admits that she did give it to Akim but only wanted him to get Lina out of her apartment. He tells her he loves her, and they sit on the porch and Allison says she can't believe how everything looks exactly the same. She asks him if he agrees, and he says no - it all looks completely different to him now.