Amanda Knox, Stillwater, Matt Damon, Tom McCarthy

If the plot of Matt Damon’s STILLWATER sounds vaguely familiar it’s because a real-life event pretty much mirrors the story of the film. Amanda Knox is an activist, journalist and she wrote a book called “Waiting to Be Heard”, which details the events of her charge of murder that resulted in her spending four years in an Italian prison following her conviction of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a fellow exchange student who shared her apartment. The book also details her 2015 definitive acquittal and the fallout that followed but if you expect her to buy a ticket to Stillwater, which tells a similar story, you’d be sorely mistaken.

In Stillwater, Matt Damon plays an unemployed oil rig worker from Oklahoma who sets out alongside a French woman to prove his convicted daughter’s innocence. I’ve seen some reports that it is loosely based on Amanda Knox’s story and, however loosely it may be, Knox posted a series of tweets that call out Matt Damon and director Tom McCarthy for stealing her story without her consent. You can check out some of the tweets below and can read them all in full by visiting Amanda Knox’s Twitter page.

The tweets honestly go on and they detail how Stillwater isn’t the first time someone has chosen to, as she put it, “rip off my story without my consent at the expense of my reputation.” Knox invited McCarthy and Damon to join her on her podcast, “Labyrinths“, so they could get her side of the story and maybe hear theirs in regards to using her real-life tragic event to shape their film. At the end of the day, Knox wants people to understand how, “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.”

The Amanda Knox story had the world riveted when it occurred in 2007. Knox was an American college student who spent nearly four years in an Italian prison following her conviction of the murder of her roommate and fellow exchange student, Meredith Kercher. Knox, after returning to her apartment with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, called the police and notified them that they found her roommate dead. Suspicion immediately fell on the duo with lured stories of sex games gone wrong dominating the headlines. The investigation was immediately seen as a botched job but it also showed how hard it could be for an American to receive a fair trial in another country. They were both ultimately convicted of the murder and sentenced to 25 and 26 years, respectively. Amanda Knox’s family worked tirelessly for over four years to prove their daughter’s innocence and bring her back to the U.S. Know and her boyfriend were ultimately acquitted. Sometime after the two were sentenced, a known burglar named Rudy Guede was arrested following the discovery of his bloodstained fingerprints on Kercher’s possessions. He was late found guilty of murder in a fast-track trial and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. As of December 4, 2020, an Italian court ruled that Guede could complete his term doing community service. The conviction of Guede offered up even more validation for Knox’s innocence.

McCarthy has commented on the Knox connection to the film before by saying “There were so many characters around the case that I really followed pretty closely. But really the first thing that I took away from it was, what would that be like as an American student to go over (to Europe) for what should be one of the most exciting moments in a young adult life and to find yourself in that tragedy? There were so many layers to that story that kept anyone who was following pretty riveted…Who are the people that visiting (her), and what are those relationships? Like, what’s the story around the story? We decided, ‘Hey, let’s leave that Amanda Knox case behind but let me take this piece of the story, an American woman studying abroad involved in some kind of sensational crime and she ends up in jail, and fictionalize everything around.”

There are some key differences in Stillwater compared to the real Amanda Knox story. The crime in the film takes place in Marseille, France (Not Italy) and she has been imprisoned for five years and counting. Amanda Knox, whose father was the face of the family that 100% supported her released, isn’t really mirrored in that regard in the film because Abigail Breslin’s Alison has to rely only on her estranged father from Oklahoma for help. 

This is a tough one to have an opinion on. I didn’t go through what Amanda Knox went through so this event is something that she lives with and to see a film maybe trivializing it for entertainment, might make her feel like her story is being used in such a way without her permission. At first, I was like this is free reign and the story is public so why would it matter if they loosely based it on her life but once you think about everything she went through, you begin to understand why she feels so strongly about this. 

What are YOUR thoughts on Amanda Knox and her claims against Stillwater?

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