(CNN)Anchored by an awesome show from Matt Damon, "Stillwater" confounds expectations successful mostly frustrating ways. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy (the Oscar-winning "Spotlight") has acceptable up a movie astir a begetter determined to assistance escaped his daughter, but dissimilar the accustomed can-do Americans successful this benignant of tale, he's intelligibly successful mode implicit his head.
The communicative owes an evident indebtedness to the Amanda Knox case, with Abigail Breslin playing Allison, an American pupil convicted successful the execution of her roommate and lover. Her father, Bill Baker (Damon), visits from Oklahoma to the jailhouse wherever she's presently imprisoned successful Marseille, pursuing a enactment of enquiry that mightiness pb to her release.
Still, acold from the Hitchcockian everyman who invariably triumphed successful specified situations (think Jimmy Stewart successful "The Man Who Knew Too Much"), Bill has his ain troubled background, including substance abuse, and isn't overmuch of a detective.
Unable to talk the section language, helium yet strikes up a narration with an actress, Virginie (Camille Cottin, precocious seen successful "Call My Agent"), forging improbable ties to her and her young girl (Lilou Siauvaud), a surrogate for the parental enslaved that helium mostly squandered.
The movie frankincense operates connected parallel tracks, with Bill establishing thing of a beingness successful Marseille portion endeavoring to find a mode to exonerate Allison, contempt being urged to fto it go.
"The past happening you privation to springiness girl is mendacious hope," her lawyer tells him, but driven by forces wrong him -- among them a tendency to marque amends -- Bill can't look to relinquish the fight.
McCarthy primitively drew inspiration from the Knox story, and an aboriginal draught of the publication sat dormant for respective years. In the interim, the satellite -- and America's spot successful it -- has evolved, adding different constituent to Bill's efforts.
Because McCarthy and his collaborators present overmuch much of an indie movie than a workplace product, "Stillwater" (the sanction of an Oklahoma town) takes unanticipated detours, which proves a mixed blessing. While the movie keeps the assemblage disconnected equilibrium astir what truly happened, and what will, it drags connected astir 2 hours and 20 minutes, fostering impatience astir reaching the end, and little restitution erstwhile it yet does.
Give McCarthy recognition for gathering a movie astir a flawed protagonist and his hunt for redemption, and Damon for wholeheartedly sinking himself into a relation that avoids the accustomed heroic cliches.
Ultimately, though, "Stillwater" runs agelong but doesn't tally peculiarly heavy -- oregon astatine least, not rather heavy enough.
"Stillwater" premieres July 30 successful US theaters. It's rated R.