About a minute into watching the new Netflix documentary Amanda Knox, directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, I understood why many people believe that she is guilty. Knox, for those who somehow missed the media circus surrounding her case, is a young American woman who in 2007 while an exchange student in Italy was arrested for, and subsequently convicted of, murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher.
The film begins with Kercher’s murder and documents the case through the various trials and appeals, culminating in Knox’s final appeal in front of Italy’s Supreme Court in 2012. The tale is told primarily through interviews with key players including Amanda, her ex-boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, Italian prosecutor Guiliano Mignini and journalist Nick Pisa of England’s Daily Mail.
It’s a cast of characters that are fascinating if not particularly sympathetic. Knox herself has a casual air about her and comes across as almost lackadaisical while discussing the details of the case. She describes herself as “different” from others and it is this quality which made me appreciate why so many believed her to be guilty and why questions around her guilt have persisted to this day.
As for the others, Mignini fancies himself a modern day Sherlock Holmes and his focus on cracking the case with his keen eye for human behaviour seems to be another factor which led to Amanda’s conviction. The final piece to the puzzle comes care of Nick Pisa, a journalist whose ethics are so shady he can’t even keep a straight face when talking about journalistic integrity. He describes reporting on anything and everything having to do with the case without consideration of its validity or consequence.
They are all captivating individuals to be sure and it’s a film that is a must see for anyone who has even a passing interest in the case. Having said that, I found there to be a glaring problem with the movie, which is that it almost completely ignores the victim. With the exception of a few grisly crime scene images, two clips of her family speaking to the media and one heartbreaking story about her mother identifying her body, Meredith Kercher is missing from the film. I suppose it’s not surprising that a movie titled Amanda Knox would focus on Amanda and her story but to my mind the film suffers from the fact that it overlooks the victim.
In the end it is a movie that works as a cautionary tale about a perfect storm of a determined prosecutor, a ravenous media and a girl who may have gone to jail simply because of her manner, who was thought to be guilty because she is a bit different. It’s something, she suggests, that could happen to any of us. Compelling stuff to be sure but in the end it is also a film that lacks the heart and gravitas that the victim deserves – a victim who, as in life, got lost amongst a sea of unsympathetic characters.