Review: Stillwater


Title: Stillwater
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Nino Aldi
Starring: Tyler Ritter, Eric Michael Roy, Travis Quentin Young
Runtime: 1 hr 32 minutes

What It Is: This film features a group of longtime friends whose reunion camp out in the woods takes a dark turn. Unforeseen and unexplainable events test the loyalty and patience of every man in attendance, making this solid troupe of buddies turn on each other.

What We Think: It is hard to critique a film that excels in certain fields while lacking in others. The film is a visual spectacle that is hard to tear your eyes from. Just from looks alone, you’d expect what you’re watching to be a cinematic masterpiece worth national theatrical release and praise. Within the art of cinema, it is easy to praise such a film if you are a huge supporter of cinematography and just the way a film looks in general. This particular film is truly beautiful to watch; the shot work and editing demonstrate a true appreciation for visual storytelling, how to make everything you see on the screen matter. From each and every character presented to the smalls waves in the ocean and the way each one reflects rays of sunlight, the eyes are not disappointed or lead astray in what they are taking in. On the other hand, however, cinema obviously isn’t entirely made up of visual storytelling, a fact gone lost on the way the characters in this film communicate the plot to the audience. There is a level of melodrama to the dialogue, not in the way it is written, really, but in the acting style of each character, which unfortunately does not provide much of a clear distinction in personality between this group of apparent retired high school jock. Although the entire tone and genre of the film itself are meant to portray immense degrees of suspense and tension, the way in which the characters interact with each other is so overly eccentric it is almost silly. I fail to appreciate the true talent each actor may possess from this particular feature alone. A stereotypical character written with specific intentions for the overall story is never a shameful plot device when used sparingly. However, the acting in this particular film seems to water down the overall seriousness with unnecessary zeal paired with more than occasional bouts of trivial dialogue.

Our Grade: C, And I’m still on the fence with this. As a strong appreciator of strong dialogue and well-rounded characters, it makes me uncomfortable not to completely condemn this film on these reasons alone. However, films are celebrated in many facets of artistic genius, not just words and a highly complex cast. The visual work of this film is beautiful, to say the least. I can say this is truly an example of how to really pick a film apart and find exactly what to admire and what to criticize.

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