On the day of its release, the movie Stillwater, starring Matt Damon, is facing criticism from the person who filmmaker Tom McCarthy says inspired the story: Amanda Knox. In a series of tweets, Knox spoke out against the movie’s use of her name in promotions, how the film perpetuates a false version of the murder of Knox’s roommate Meredith Kercher, and the way it profits off of her life.
“Does my name belong to me?” wrote Knox. “Does my face? What about my life? My story? Why is my name used to refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, and story without my consent. Most recently, the film Stillwater.”
In 2007, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, were wrongly convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s roommate and a fellow exchange student studying in Perugia, Italy. Knox spent nearly four years in prison before she was eventually acquitted in 2015. In 2008, Rudy Guede was arrested for Kercher’s murder; he was released from prison in December 2020 to finish his sentence doing community service.
Stillwater’s similarities to the case are hard to miss. The movie follows Bill Baker (Damon), an oil worker from Stillwater, Oklahoma, who travels to France after his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) is charged with the murder of her friend while studying in Marseille. Bill tries to help his daughter, who says she’s innocent, while navigating the French legal system.
“This is not the Amanda Knox story,” McCarthy previously told ET regarding Stillwater. “Just inspired.” In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, McCarthy says he was “fascinated” with what Vanity Fair called the “Amanda Knox saga,” again reiterating that it inspired his film. “I want to pause right here on that phrase: ‘the Amanda Knox saga,’” Knox wrote. “What does that refer to? Does it refer to anything I did? No. It refers to the events that resulted from the murder of Meredith Kercher by a burglar named Rudy Guede. It refers to the shoddy police work, prosecutorial tunnel vision, and refusal to admit their mistakes that led the Italian authorities to wrongfully convict me, twice.”
As Knox mentions, for years, the case was highly publicized, with Knox not only being treated as a pariah but being painted as guilty in fictionalized versions of the murder. Knox likened the way her name was used in connection to the murder to the way Monica Lewinsky bore the brunt of media criticism for the affair with Bill Clinton. “In those four years of wrongful imprisonment and eight years of trial, I had near-zero agency,” Knox wrote in her recent thread. “Everyone else in that ‘saga’ had more influence over the course of events than I did. The erroneous focus on me by the Italian authorities led to an erroneous focus on me by the press, which shaped how I was presented to the world. In prison, I had no control over my public image, no voice in my story.”
In her thread, Knox also noted that for many of the books, movies, and docuseries about the case, she was rarely asked to give input, often contacted as an afterthought. Though she has reached out to McCarthy and Damon, Knox says she has yet to hear from either of them. With Stillwater, Knox takes specific issue with the fact that the character “inspired” by her ends up being involved in the murder. “By fictionalizing away my innocence, my total lack of involvement, by erasing the role of the authorities in my wrongful conviction, McCarthy reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person,” Knox wrote.
While Knox says she forgives most of this — “There’s money to be made, and you have no obligation to approach me” — she is most bothered by the fictionalization of her life and the way it ultimately perpetuates a false narrative, one she says has caused her “trauma.” “It’s an uphill battle,” Knox said in regards to regaining control of her own story. “I probably won’t succeed. But I’ve been here before. I know what it’s like facing impossible odds.”