Accused murderer Amanda Knox is the subject of the latest flavor-of-the-month true crime original movie from Netflix (the online powerhouse hit it big last year with wildly popular and similar series “Making A Murderer“). “Amanda Knox,” which premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, is just okay as far as documentaries go. I think it would’ve been better suited as a miniseries than a 90 minute movie.
Knox herself kicks off the film while staring into the camera: “Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you.” This opener is strong and effective, but it doesn’t set viewers up for the complete letdown of a film that follows.
The lurid, complex case is fascinating and almost unbelievable. Knox was a supposed jealous, sex-crazed college girl studying abroad in Italy who allegedly stabbed her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and attempted to stage a crime scene to hide her guilt. Knox was arrested and spent years incarcerated in a prison in Italy (where she was convicted of the murder — twice). She was eventually released when an Italian appeals court found that cops completely contaminated nearly all of the DNA evidence in the case. This story should make for a completely fascinating film, but it’s a lot of information to pack into one short movie and the doc suffers because of this.
The documentary presents no new information and leaves many questions unanswered. Too many details are left unexplored so viewers never get a full, in-depth examination of the evidence and crucial elements of the macabre case. Most of the stories are told in a boring talking head fashion, with visuals of Italian police documents and gruesome crime scene videos.
There could’ve been an entire two hour episode dedicated solely to Nick Pisa, a freelance “journalist” who fell into the tabloid style of sensational reporting and racy headlines that contributed to a worldwide media frenzy. This careless reporting eventually helped lead to Knox’s conviction for rape and murder in Italy — twice. That Pisa shows little regret (expressed through his overly cheerful demeanor when discussing the case) is something I’d love to have seen explored further.
There’s much brought up about the prosecution’s theory of a sex game gone wrong, yet the filmmakers never show us any background as to why that was their case. We don’t see much evidence presented at all, on either side. Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, a Sherlock Holmes fan who fancies himself a shrewd American movie style detective, is another compelling figurehead that doesn’t get enough screen time to make a lasting impact. There are countless missed opportunities like this, and the film is a victim of its own shorter format.
This is a compelling story but it isn’t a well made movie. I wanted “Amanda Knox” to be a riveting exploration of how someone may or may not have been falsely accused of murder, the worldwide justice and media implications the case and appeals have created, or just a basic play-by-play that examined all of the evidence at hand. Instead it’s just another ho-hum true crime documentary that’s not really worth your time.
Matt was unavailable for review.