Is Stillwater Really Based On Amanda Knox's Life?

Contains spoilers for "Stillwater"

Newest summer release "Stillwater," which stars Hollywood heavyweights such as Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin, is already garnering controversy due to its similarities to the Amanda Knox case. According to The Observer, the movie follows the story of an American student from Stillwater, Oklahoma, whose lover is murdered during a study abroad program in France. The student's father travels to Europe to try to help his daughter.

Though there are some major differences in the story, director and co-screenwriter Tom McCarthy was open about the fact that the plot was inspired by the Amanda Knox case, per Vanity Fair. For a quick refresher, Amanda Knox is an American who found herself in the middle of the murder investigation of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in late 2007. According to Biography, Knox originally signed a confession stating she was present in their shared cottage during the murder and the culprit was her boss from her waitressing job. She recanted the statement a few hours later, claiming that she had been threatened by police with the prospect of decades of jail time and also blamed the "pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion," per CNN.

Nevertheless, Italian investigators zeroed in on the 20-year-old college student — despite little credible evidence and a more promising suspect in Rudy Guede. Knox was found guilty of the murder and spent four years in an Italian jail. It was only after numerous appeals and retrials that she was eventually exonerated in 2015. 

The differences in 'Stillwater' are harmful to Amanda Knox

Knox has maintained that since the fundamentals of the story are incredibly close to her own experience, the fact that the American student ends up being involved in the murder makes her appear guilty by association. 

"I would love nothing more than for people to refer to the events in Perugia as 'The murder of Meredith Kercher by Rudy Guede,' which would place me as the peripheral figure I should have been, the innocent roommate," Knox wrote in an essay published on Medium about the film.

"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," she continued.

Knox has struggled for years to shake the public's belief that she was involved in Kercher's death. In fact, a majority of Brits believe she was involved in the murder, despite her exoneration, the fact that false confessions are surprisingly common, and that there was no credible evidence tying her to the crime.

"This fictionalization of 'the Amanda Knox saga' ...  is sure to leave plenty of viewers wondering, 'Maybe the real-life Amanda was involved somehow,'" Knox added in one of her concluding critiques about the movie — and the issue of its similarities to her life.