“Silent Water” is defined as “Matt Damon’s new film,” and it does play an excellent role as a man who swallows his own suffering and hardships and reveals nothing outwardly. But this is, first and foremost, Tom McCarthy’s new film, and the first after the win His Oscar for Spotlight from 2016.
McCarthy is a director and screenwriter (and sometimes an actor) whose films are so minor that it is sometimes difficult to feel their presence, so it is doubtful if anyone misses him in the long breaks he takes between films. But from the moment you notice them, the very name on his new film evokes a sense of contentment and indulgence.
The secret of McCarthy’s magic is in his humanistic point of view, which puts at the center of his films people marginalized; And the encounter between them and people who are outside their social circle. The people and the encounters, through delicate and sensational eyes, make his films one that is always pleasant to meet. Starting with “Station People” (2003), his first film to introduce Peter Dinklage to the world (years later, McCarthy was on the Game of Thrones development team, and it was he who brought Dinklage to a series that made him a huge star). It also took Hollywood a while to get used to the very un-American pace of his films, until he received recognition and applause with his Oscar for the Spotlight screenplay, which also won the film award.
His new film, Silent Water, seems broader than his previous films – with locations ranging from the south to the south of France – but it contains all the elements that characterize McCarthy’s films: Humans are vulnerable in the search for the truth, even if the truth is not. Comfortable.
Damon plays the character of Bill, a blue-collar man from Oklahoma: a religious Christian, a gunman, who was fired from his job in oil drilling and works casual jobs in construction and demolition. As part of his off-duty daily routine, once every few months he flew to Marseille to visit his daughter (Abigail Breslin), who came to Marseille as a university student and is currently sitting in jail for murder. Through Masanovo Takainagi’s camera, and through the eyes of the protagonist, Oklahoma and Marseille look exactly the same: working-class cities, of people that society has swept aside and they need to act aggressively to make their voices heard.
When Bill’s new evidence arrives, which may lead to a retrial for his daughter, he decides for the first time to stop being a passive father, and go out to investigate the truth, hoping it will expedite his release from prison, his late attempt to correct the fact he was never there , Are the only rare father-daughter moments in their lives.
Bill plays a character who is on the fringes of American society, the same silenced class that saw in Donald Trump the possibility of revenge on the seven societies that abandoned him. But when he arrived in Marseilles, he – the American – was considered to have privileges there. There he also meets for the first time all those whom the American right is trying to suppress: immigrants, Muslims, women and LGBT people. In one of the scenes in the film, a French woman asks him, in a contemptuous tone, if he voted for Trump. Bill answers no, because he has a criminal record, and people with a criminal record are barred from voting in America. His interlocutor, who a second ago wanted to despise the man in front of her for appearing to be a clear Trump supporter (which he probably is), understands that in America democracy is a privilege reserved for the few and without a right granted to all. Thus, in a short, casual and laconic scene, of no more than two sentences and ten words, McCarthy presents the characters and the world in which they live, and the sense of imprisonment that everyone already feels within which they live. This is the secret of the charm and power of his films, whose moments of enlightenment are expressed in understatement, and whose vulnerable characters easily transcend the stereotypical external image.
It’s hard to escape the feeling – and it’s very sharp and clear when watching – that McCarthy is making a film here inspired by Asgar Farhadi, the Iranian director who has already won two Oscars. The stylistic and thematic resemblance to Farhdi’s ‘agent’ cannot be accidental, and the truth is that it is easy to see how McCarthy and Farhadi are cinematic cousins: they both have a similar human, aesthetic and dramaturgical point of view. As in Farhdi’s films, “Silent Water” begins as a realistic, low-paced family drama, and here too the protagonist finds himself rolling into a detective mystery that he feels obligated to dive into, though not sure he wants to be exposed to the truth that will be revealed at the end. .