Everything that made the Amanda Knox case a fascinating media phenomenon also makes it a fascinating documentary.
As the title implies, the particular focus of this Netflix documentary is Amanda Knox, the American student at the centre of the murder of her English roommate, Meredith Kercher in Italy in November, 2007. The murder victim, the crime scene, the investigators, even her co-accused are all peripheral details viewed through the lens of the impact they have on Knox.
She is an active participant in the project. She sits, looking straight into the camera, and recounts the details of the case. We hear in her own words what happened the night that her roommate was murdered and how she and her Italian boyfriend of five days were accused of the murder. She recounts the legal process and the increasingly intense and bizarre media coverage.
With this kind of access, it’s inevitable that the movie seems to lean in Amanda Knox’s favour. Interviews with the lead Italian investigator and prosecutors seem to show they made leaps in logic in pursuing the case against her. As Knox’s lawyers argued, their theory for her motive doesn’t make a lot of sense and isn’t supported by the facts. Seeing and hearing the investigator lay it out in his own words, it’s easy to see why they think it’s baffling. But the movie would have benefited from a bit more perspective and balance.
For me, the most fascinating parts are the scenes with British journalist Nick Pisa. He both understands how to do his job and the unfortunate effects that job sometimes has on the people he covered. He seems to say that while he realizes how media coverage can impact public perception of the justice system, they are two separate spheres with separate sets of values. At one point, while discussing how a minor detail was turned into a salacious headline, Pisa acknowledges some people may have moral objections, but sitting on such information means getting beaten by your competitors. He does what he does very well, even if in the bigger picture he has to acknowledge that what he does can sometimes seem repugnant.
I went into this movie knowing nothing about the Amanda Knox case, which should be nearly impossible considering how much media coverage it received. The poster Netflix used for this movie captures Amanda Knox very well. It focuses on her eyes. And there are times when she’s looking into the camera that you get the impression she knows more than she’s saying–not necessarily in a sinister way, but the way you might look at a woman in a painting and wonder what she’s thinking.
Nowadays, that’s just the sort of face that sells a lot of tabloids. Or makes people press play on a movie.
|Director||Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn|
|Writer||Matthew Hamachek, Brian McGinn|
|Starring||Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Nick Pisa|
|Production||Netflix, Plus Pictures|