Documentary reflecting on the Meredith Kercher murder focusing, predictably, on Amanda Knox’s experiences at the time, and the eight years following which saw her imprisoned then released, only for that new ‘not guilty’ verdict to be overturned.
As with any true-crime documentary, the pertinent question here is: will it tell me who did it? The answer with Netflix’s latest original film is — sort of. But let’s set the scene (just in case you’re somehow unaware of the Meredith Kercher case and Amanda Knox’s role in it). On 1 November 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found dead in her apartment in Perugia, Italy. Her American flatmate Amanda Knox was one of three people, amid sensationalist media coverage, who were subsequently found guilty of the murder. But that wasn’t the end of it, and the appeals process began.
The reason the case became so well-known is because of Knox. Her looks and persona (albeit one at least in part created for her by the media) fuelled public interest in an almost unprecedented manner. Was the murder a sex game gone wrong? Did she do cartwheels as she was waiting to be questioned? And what did her self-anointed nickname, Foxy Knoxy, reveal about her?
Directors Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn tell the story, which finally saw Knox exonerated last year by Italy’s supreme court. Using archive footage and talking heads, the four major speakers are Knox, her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, lead investigator Giuliano Mignini and journalist Nick Pisa, who covered the trial. Mignini was the person who first theorised Knox was involved, and he still argues she was — although whether he’s motivated by actually believing this, or simply wanting to cover his own back, is unclear. But it’s Pisa who leaves the most lasting impression — and not a good one. The implication is that Knox was tried as much by the media as by the jury, and Pisa’s obvious (and odious) delight in breaking the gruesome details of the case (true or blatantly not — it doesn’t seem he bothered to check) reveal the worst of tabloid journalism.
Ultimately the film isn’t about whether Knox and Sollecito are guilty or not — it’s pretty much taken as a given they’re innocent. But in a post-Serial world, where The Jinx and Netflix’s own Making A Murderer have became media sensations, Amanda Knox’s 90-minute running time feels rushed. It can’t take the time to carefully examine the forensic evidence, or expose properly the police interrogation tactics that led to Knox unwittingly incriminating herself by accusing others and changing her story. Expectations of this type of true-crime documentary have changed, and this speedy tour through eight years of Italian justice (or lack of) fails to fully satisfy.