A return to Cannes made Matt Damon misty. The actor swooped into the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday night with “Stillwater,” a Focus Features drama directed by “Spotlight” helmer Tom McCarthy.
As the credits rolled, Damon — standing by his director and co-stars — started to tear up at the cheers from the crowd. The Oscar winner plays a stoic Oklahoma construction worker whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) is imprisoned for murder in France, following a harrowing incident with her girlfriend while studying abroad. As years and expensive lawyers add up (in a scenario extremely reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case), Damon works tirelessly to prove his child’s innocence and befriends a single mom and her daughter along the way.
While filmmakers don’t typically give speeches following their Cannes premieres, McCarthy broke with tradition and grabbed a mic after credits rolled.
“I’m overwhelmed to be here, I’ve been so greatly influenced by the cinema of this country and of Europe,” McCarthy said. “It’s so inspiring to present a film to this amazing audience in this iconic theater … that’s all I can come up with in this instant-tradition moment,” he added.
A mini star was born in newcomer Lilou Siauvaud, who plays a surrogate daughter to Damon in the dramatic thriller. Their on-screen chemistry played huge with the audience, only magnified when the actors embraced in theater after credits rolled.
After a pandemic hiatus, the 74th edition of Cannes returned this week in poignant and emotional reunion of the global film community. Among the other films premiering are “Annette,” starring Adam Driver, “The French Dispatch” from Wes Anderson and the documentary “The Velvet Underground” from Todd Haynes.
While the industry, talent and media seem awestruck that the festival managed to beb mounted at all, COVID-19 protocols have made for interesting conversation on the ground.
“Stillwater” releases in the U.S. on July 30.