Trigger warning: Please be advised that the following review covers sensitive topics, including death and violent imagery.
Netflix recently released “Amanda Knox,” a documentary about the infamous 2007 murder trial of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. The movie documents every detail of the night of the killing and the convoluted eight-year trial, striving to highlight both the craziest twists and turns of the case and the media’s incredible sensationalization of the murder—all the while never dictating for the viewer whether “Foxy Knoxy” is innocent or guilty.
In summary of the case, on Nov. 2, 2007, British college student Meredith Kercher was found brutally murdered in a house she shared with three other roommates in Perugia, Italy. The next day, after seeing blood in the sink and on a bath mat, Knox—one of Kercher’s roommates and exchange-student from Seattle—called the police after she was unable to open Kercher’s door. The police uncovered a most gruesome scene of Kercher, dead on the floor.
The days that followed featured a chaotic whirlwind of press aggrandizement, intense investigation and finger-pointing. Police, growing suspicious of Knox, began to question her and Sollecito. The case dragged on for two years, until Knox and Sollecito were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively. But it wasn’t over yet: Knox and her family fought back, and after a tumultuous legal battle, both Knox and Sollecito were acquitted in 2015.
The documentary begins in an eye-catching fashion with live police footage of the crime scene with a voiceover by Knox. Two minutes in, there is a close-up shot of Knox alone facing the camera. Raw and vaguely teary-eyed, she says, “If I am guilty it means that I am the ultimate figure to fear because I am not the obvious one, but on the other hand if I am innocent it means that everyone is vulnerable and that’s everyone’s nightmare.” She then pauses and dramatically states, “Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing or I am you.” The film continues as the opening credits roll in, mysterious music plays and media soundbites call out Knox, labeling her as a “she-devil with an angel face,” or a “heartless manipulator.”
From there, the documentary highlights the unbelievable twists of the story. While this mystique of the film seems like hard-hitting journalism, the documentary can be seen as slightly hypocritical—it aims to make a statement on the media’s hype over the case, but at the same time, plays up the film’s intensity. The nature of the case is no doubt intriguing by itself, but the documentary adds even more drama.
However, there are ways in which this drama emphasizes other overlooked aspects of the case. For instance, there are many scenes in which the main prosecutor of the case, Giuliano Mignini, is portrayed as a corrupt authoritarian figure, malevolently smiling, powerfully commanding a sea of eager reporters or hinting that the trial wasn’t completely fair.
The documentary ends on a comparably dramatic shot of Knox overlooking the ocean. She says, “I think people love monsters. So when they get the chance they want to see them … So maybe that’s what it is—we’re all afraid and fear makes people crazy.”
Overall, the documentary may be flashy, but it does tell the complete story of the case. It explains every breakthrough, gets viewpoints from all the key people involved and discusses the public’s opinions on Knox. The case is truly a real-life murder mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat and causes you to both question and sympathize with Knox. Check it out if you run out of “Criminal Minds” episodes.