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The multiplex air conditioner pooped out halfway through, occasioning an early exit. Part of me was thrilled, but there’s this completist in me who hates not seeing a movie through to the end, particularly when the decision to leave was not my own. I should have thanked the gods of cinema and been done with it: Stillwater doesn’t run deep. One day, Oklahoma Everyman Bill (Matt Damon) is helping to clean up after a tornado, the next he’s in France, working to reverse his daughter Allison’s (Abigail Breslin) murder conviction. (The character is loosely based on Amanda Knox.) Early on in his career, director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) displayed a genius for dramatizing the everydayness of life with a near-neorealist devotion. In McCarthy’s France, what with all the Burger Kings, Subways, and Best Westerns, it’s hard to differentiate between Montclair and Clairemont. And Virginie (Camille Cottin), the woman in the adjoining room who, when asked to keep the noise down, tells Bill she doesn’t speak English, is embarrassingly fluent when it comes time for her to thank him for helping her young daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), who was locked out of their room. It might have worked had McCarthy focused on the father/daughter relationship rather than having Bill (widowed by suicide) shack up with Virginie. I was more interested in the lies the father told his daughter than I was in waiting for the inevitable Sandra Bullock moment when Bill and his replacement family would indulge in a group dance. An Instagram investigation of the suspected killer held more logic than the happenstance encounter at a soccer game, followed by his kidnapping and incarceration in Virginie’s flat. What follows is a total acquiescence to formula. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated R | 2 hours, 20 minutes
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Regal Rancho San Diego
2951 Jamacha Road, El Cajon, 619-660-3483 | Directions
Wednesday, September 22
6:10pm, 9:25pm
Thursday, September 23
6:10pm, 9:25pm

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