Examining Amanda Knox's story in a cold, dispassionate manner isn't easy.
For one, so much of the story has been utterly contaminated by the likes of the Daily Mail - personified by the oily, unscrupulous journalist Nick Pisa and his shit-eating grin. Moreover, the story is so baffling that it truly doesn't allow for a sterile and reasoned examination. For those who are unaware of what happened, here's the cliff notes - a British student, Meredith Kercher, was murdered in her bungalow in Perugia, Italy. Her roommate, Amanda Knox, and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were quickly charged with her murder and placed in jail awaiting trial. In the midst of all this, a media circus sprung around the case.
What Amanda Knox does is not so much examine the case as it examines the circumstances of the case. In other words, it tries to fit in the trial-by-media, the incredibly unscrupulous media coverage that took place surrounding it and Amanda Knox's own version of events into 90 minutes. The documentary doesn't seek to undermine the case because, well, it was on shaky ground to begin with. The baffling lack of procedure surrounding the investigation is laid bare and the Italian investigator, Giuliano Mignini, more than incriminates himself throughout the documentary. Likewise, the aforementioned Nick Pisa seems to be just oblivious to how terrible he comes across and one of the lawyers involved the case even makes the point of Italians had law before Native Americans.
The documentary does a very good job of showing just how bizarre the whole case was. Journalists rifling through Knox's MySpace page, the ludicrous headlines that told of a sex orgy gone wrong, even the Taiwanese 3D animations get a look-in, all with a very calm and collected narration by Amanda Knox herself. The documentary's cast of characters - Sollecito, Knox, the prosecutor Mignini, the journalist Pisa - each are defined very quickly in their roles and the documentary makes little or no attempt at trying to dissuade you from your opinions. If anything, you'll walk away from the whole thing with your own initial suspicions calcified.
Technically, the documentary does look slick and well-produced. Directors Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn are clever enough to focus the camera on the people who know the most - or say the know the most - and let them talk openly and honestly. It works because, well, why not set the record straight? The down-the-lens interviews give it a real sense of confession, but what's interesting is that you begin to question everyone's motives for a time and then the documentary's narrative starts awkwardly pointing itself toward a conclusion. It's odd because it very clearly asks you to do this; to question what you're being told by everyone; and then suddenly decides to change gears and tell you what to think.
This lack of harmony in tone is intriguing, as is the fact that it's a feature documentary and not a series ala Making A Murderer. Why not give the story more room to breathe? Why not investigate it more fully and give a more dispassionate, analytical view of the facts and the case? It's hard to say, really. It might have been a lack of resources, maybe Netflix wasn't interested in a rival to Making A Murderer - the point is that you come away from Amanda Knox not really knowing the full story. There are open, very visible gaps in the storytelling and you do get the sense that you're being spun a tale rather than being given an account of the facts. The Italian justice system, for example, isn't explored or how it was that Knox and Sollecitio were allowed to be held without conviction for such a long time. Mignini's previous record with the Monster Of Florence case was never mentioned, whilst a truly sinister incident involving a bloodtest of Amanda Knox was only mentioned in passing.
There are so many examples of this in the film that it makes for frustrating watch. That said, it's an entertaining one - if that's the right word - and it has some interesting points to make, even if it's done without subtlety or grace.