Magazine article Variety

Amanda Knox

Magazine article Variety

Amanda Knox

Article excerpt


Directors: Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn

Cast: Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Nick Pisa, Guiliana Mignini

The Amanda Knox story, when it happened nine years ago, came packaged with so much shrill hyperbole that it was almost impossible not to get lost in a maze of outrageousness, all leading to the implication that she was guilty. The girl with the suspicious eyes! Who slept with so many men! And together with her Italian boyfriend (who was also tried and convicted), along with a third accomplice, killed the roommate in the frenzied climax of an orgy! It was all delivered like some latter-day Manson episode, to the point that Amanda's "guilt" became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if she didn't kill the roommate, readers and viewers around the world drank in her fallen-angel image in newspapers, on TV, and on the web and thought, "Just look at that face! She has to be guilty of something."

"Amanda Knox," directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, revisits the saga by burning offthe lurid overkill and, for the first time, getting the facts right. The film has been made in a scrupulous version of what might be called the HBO nonfiction aesthetic - the mixture of intelligence, hooky subject matter, and uncensored honesty that Sheila Nevins, the president of HBO Documentary Films, has patented into a kind of house style. Except that "Amanda Knox" isn't an HBO film. It's a Netflix Original Documentary, proof that compelling modes of filmmaking will always spread.

Blackhurst and McGinn take us back to the crime scene, using police video footage shot on Nov. 2, 2007 - the day the body of Meredith Kercher, a 20-yearold student from South London, was discovered in her room with her throat slit. The room was in a four-bedroom groundfloor apartment in the picturesque hillside town of Perugia. At the time, one of the early reported signs of Amanda's "guilt" was that she appeared remorseless, as indicated by assorted examples of her "inappropriate" behavior. In "Amanda Knox," the police video captures one of those early moments - an extended shot of Amanda, standing outside the house, kissing Raffaele Sollecito. What we see, in fact, doesn't look inappropriate at all; it looks like a visibly distraught college girl taking comfort in the arms of her boyfriend. But this was the seed of the myth that took hold.

The filmmakers interview Nick Pisa, the freelance Fleet Street journalist who became notorious for publishing Knox's prison diary, and he talks, with a brutal flippancy that's shocking in context, about the methodology he and his fellow reporters used. They were all trying to whip each other with scoops, the more outlandish the better, and because Knox was alluring and promiscuous, the whole notion that she was also a sick temptress guilty of murder became great copy.

"Meredith Killed in Sex Orgy" was an early headline, not because there was evidence for it, but because it sounded good. Knox became known in the tabloids as "Foxy Knoxy," with can't-miss stories like "Dead Girl Feared Knoxy's Sex Toy." For a while, it was reported that she was HIV-positive (not so). Then an image popped up on the internet of Amanda, when she was a teenager, clowning around and pretending to fire a machine gun - clear evidence, of course, that she was a deranged killer. …

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