The new Tom McCarthy film Stillwater, starring Matt Damon as a man whose daughter has been imprisoned in Europe for a murder she may or may not have committed, isn’t technically based on the story of Amanda Knox, but it is certainly inspired by the story of Amanda Knox. She’s the woman who was wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned in Italy for several years, with the authorities and the media vilifying her and framing as a party-obsessed American girl who heartlessly murdered her friend, Meredith Kercher, and then tried to run away, which made it difficult for her to convince anyone to try and find the real killer. It’s largely the same thing that happens in Stillwater, with McCarthy noting in interviews that Knox’s story inspired the idea for the film even if the final product isn’t really about her or her story. Basically, McCarthy has not been shy about saying something along the lines of, “this movie was inspired by a specific real person named Amanda Knox.”
And yet nobody apparently thought to ask Amanda Knox how she felt about any of this. The real Knox has now written a piece for Medium (via IndieWire) in which she ponders whether or not her name and face and story really belong to her or if they can just be used freely by people who want to profit from her life. Knox’s main issue, other than the fact that McCarthy and Damon freely refer to Stillwater as having been inspired by her life even though they’ve never spoken to her, is that this is another instance of the media robbing her of her agency. She became the center of a media frenzy about a murder she didn’t commit, at the expense of the actual person who was murdered and the actual person who killed her, and now her name is being used to promote a movie about the same thing—with all of it happening through no fault of her own.
She still feels like she’s being treated as a character in a sensationalized story instead of a real person, with no regard being given to her right to live a life that isn’t controlled by how the media perceives her. She also notes, through some spoilers for Stillwater, that some of the fictionalized aspects of the Amanda Knox-type character in the movie play into unfair conspiracy theories and criticisms that some people have about her life, which she says “reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person.” As of right now, it doesn’t sound like McCarthy or Damon have responded to any of this.