Director Tom McCarthy: ‘Stillwater’ is not about Amanda Knox’s life experience

"Stillwater" Photocall - The 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival

The more I read about Stillwater (The Tears of an Overseas MAGA), the more convinced I am that the story has very little to do with Amanda Knox in general. The only thing that was “borrowed” from the Amanda Knox story was the fact that an American college student is sitting in a European prison, having been convicted of killing her roommate. The rest of it is fictionalized, and it’s not even about the young woman in prison, the movie is about her father. Still, I understand why Amanda Knox came out and said what she said, which was basically: take my name out of your mouths unless you’re going to represent me and the story of Meredith Kercher correctly. Recently, Stillwater writer-director Tom McCarthy was being interviewed by Variety. They asked him about Knox’s recent comments and asked for his response. From Variety:

How McCarthy feels about Knox’s statement: “I deeply empathize with Amanda and what she went through. She was rightfully found innocent and acquitted in the Meredith Kercher case. She has platforms to speak her truth and engage with the media and she is exercising her absolute right to do so. But, by her own account, she has not seen “Stillwater” and what she seems to be raising feels very removed from the film we actually made. “Stillwater” is a work of fiction and not about her life experience. It does take from aspects of true life events, like many films, but “Stillwater” is about Bill Baker’s journey, his relationship with his estranged daughter Allison and a French woman and her young daughter he meets along the way. The questions the movie poses about American identity and moral authority are what compelled me to make this film. But I do think good films spark conversation in and around the story and I welcome audiences’ engagement in that.

Whether he feels, in retrospect, that he should have spoken to Knox: “Years ago, I made a film about real-life events called “Spotlight,” and, in that instance, we thoroughly researched and worked closely with the real-life subjects and used real names and events within the film. That was not the case with “Stillwater,” since it is a work of fiction. There were a few entry points that sparked the narrative, including aspects of real-life events but the story and characters within my latest film are all invented.

Whether Matt Damon’s character is MAGA: “How people talk about a movie and how they talk about a character is really a reflection of those people, right? Whether that’s audience or critics. They’re seeing a movie through their particular prism, and then will feel and talk about that movie through that particular prism. So that’s filmmaking, and I think good films should evoke that. So it’s not my job to gauge. If someone said, “Where do you think Bill lies in the political spectrum?” I would say he’s probably a Republican. It’s one of the reddest states in the union, and most oil guys are voting Republican. In fact, in conversations with them, one guy said to me, “You know, I didn’t dislike Hillary that much, but she told me she was going to shut down oil and fracking, and if she does that, I can’t put food on my table.” That’s how he heard it. And that made sense to me. I could understand and relate with that.

[From Variety]

Well, at least he’s being honest about writing a MAGA character. I don’t think he’s really being honest about the Knox stuff though – “what she seems to be raising feels very removed from the film we actually made. “Stillwater” is a work of fiction and not about her life experience…” Except all of the promotional materials refer to Stillwater as “based on the Amanda Knox story” and all of the reviews name-checked Knox as well. She had every right to speak out and correct misconceptions and false information, and honestly, McCarthy should have spoken to Knox and her family while he was writing the damn script.

I honestly still can’t get over the fact that Tom McCarthy saw everything that happened with the international story of Amanda Knox and thought “I should make a movie about what her father is going through, only I won’t talk to her father and I’ll just imagine that he’s a Trump-supporting salt-of-the-earth Git Er Done type, how quaint and charming.”


"Stillwater" Photocall - The 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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19 Responses to “Director Tom McCarthy: ‘Stillwater’ is not about Amanda Knox’s life experience”

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  1. lanne says:

    If he didn’t want to evoke Knox he wouldn’t have used her name in the promos. But he did. Essentially he is admitting that he used her true story to promote his fiction without her permission. Scumbag.

    • Ela says:

      Yes, I heard her on a Vox podcast.
      What she says about this movie and the use of her image in the media makes sense.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Yeah, they used her name so many times in the promo and her picture was on Vanity Fair… it’s hard to claim they never intended to link the movie and Knox. She’s allowed to be angry

  2. Nina says:

    Of course Matt Damon is involved with this mess

  3. Oh_Hey says:

    Is he joking? The Vanity Fair story that kicked this off has a picture of her on the cover page! I get that the story is actually different and I think Knox does too – that’s not the problem and this disingenuous fool does too. I won’t spoil the film for anyone that wants to see it (despite the ending being all over Twitter) but the big difference was also part of why Know was rightfully pissed to be connected through promotion.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I went to moviespoiler and read the ending because I wasn’t going to watch this mess anyway… wtf! I wouldn’t want my name attached to that garbage either.

      • IMARA219 says:

        Based on your comment, I had to look it up. WTF! That had to be the worst! If I paid money for that garbage I would be so mad.

  4. Merricat says:

    If it had just been a work of imagination inspired by actual events, I would be sympathetic, because that what many artists do. But to advertise it as based on her story and then say it had nothing to do with her story is disingenuous. Typecasting for Matty? Lol

  5. Ariel says:

    I had never heard of this guy before- I will be sure to never see or support any of his work. Another in a long line of people using and abusing Ms Knox.
    And not even giving her any thought in his pea brain.
    What an a**hat.

  6. Snappyfish says:

    Then I guess he should have kept her name out of his mouth

  7. Darla says:

    Hillary told me she was gonna shut down oil and fracking! LMAO. So funny, because Nobody, and I mean Nobody, is “shutting down” oil, which is why we’ll all have dystopian futures but…Hillary was slammed by the bernie left about fracking because she gave a more nuanced view than “Bernie Good. Bernie see bird. Bird see Bernie. Bird like Bernie. Bird not like fracking.”

    Hillary never could win because men never listened to what she actually said.

  8. detritus says:

    After long talks with my lawyers we have decided the movie is no longer based on Amanda Knox.

    So uh, they just used her name for promotion opening her up to more scrutiny and nasty statements, just cuz?

  9. Doodle says:

    I’m not going to watch this movie for a lot of reasons, one of which is because he could have written the same script but from the mother’s POV, and employed a female, but instead made it into another “white man saves the day” movie. I haven’t read the spoiler (yet) but I can guess at what the ending is. Gonna go check if I’m right.

  10. psl says:

    I can’t see the title of this movie without thinking it has to do with the band in “Almost Famous”!
    Their name was Stillwater!
    Play “Fever Dog”!! is all I want to say.

  11. Concern Fae says:

    I call bullshit. It’s showing at the theater in my neighborhood. Overheard a couple walking by “It’s about that college student who murdered that British girl.” This is why I stopped watching Law & Order. They kept doing these lazy ripped from the headlines stories, where they added some little detail making what was a complex story into one where the people involved were definitely guilty. The cases were recognizable. I wouldn’t be surprised if people remembered the CSI/L&O version rather than the truth.

    Knox is being much more polite than I would have been. It’s the “little villian gun” at the end that sunk it for me. For people to go to a film promoted as being “based on the Amanda Knox story” and then see a story where the “falsely accused” daughter is more complicit than she let it be known publicly. I would have ‘effin spoiled the story for everyone, given away the ending, and said this is not true, how dare you say it is based on me. But I’m guessing she wants to keep working as a writer and in the information sphere. Sad.

  12. Margo says:

    I heard McCarthy interviewed on WTF podcast and he explains that Stillwater was in the works for years and pulls from a range of stories/experiences. He uses the Amanda Knox story as an element within the broader story he is telling about this father trying to make up for his (many) failings as a father. The studio may be promoting it as an Amanda Knox story, but that is them being too lazy to build interest by telling people it’s a story of a parent desperate to atone for being terrible to their child when they needed them most.