AMANDA KNOX: MURDER ON TRIAL IN ITALY
US, 2011, 87 minutes, Colour.
Hayden Panettiere, Vincent Riotta, Paolo romio, Amanda Fernando Stevens, Heather Cave, Timothy Martin, Clive Walton.
Directed by Robert Dornhelm.
For many years, the murder of British student in Perugia, Meredith Kercher, and the trial of fellow students for her murder, Amanda Knox and Italian, Raffaele Sollecito, held worldwide audience interest and headlines. The murder took place in Perugia in 2007.
This film was made four years later, capitalising on audience interest, especially the American television audience. The trial was very complex, there were other accusations, especially of an African student. He was found guilty and, eventually, Amanda Knox and Sollecito were also found guilty.
There was a retrial and Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty. Knox then returned to the United States. And then, after an appeal, they were found guilty again but Amanda Knox refused to return to Italy because of the jail sentence. They have been a number of documentaries made about the case and interviewing Amanda Knox.
The film reconstructs the situations, focusing on Amanda Knox, well played by Hayden Panettiere, a 20-year-old student from Seattle with a scholarship to Italy, somewhat wilful in her manner, but supported by her mother and father and sister. Her mother is played by Marcia Gay Harden.
Intending to stay in Italy for the best part of the year, Amanda makes friends, find accommodation, sharing a flat with two fellow students, including Meredith Kercher. She also comes to the attention of Italian student, Sollecito, and the two become a couple, in some way surprising in Amanda Knox’s behaviour because of her rather stricter American upbringing. Meredith Kercher herself also has some liaisons, some connections with African students and the restaurants, connection with drugs.
At the time, there were all kinds of speculations and conspiracies including ritual sex behaviour and killings.
While the film’s screenplay seems to be on the side of Amanda Knox, it portrays her as somewhat unsympathetic (something akin to the case of Lindy Chamberlain and the death her daughter Azariah and Lindy Chamberlain’s somewhat severe manner, alienating her from the public via the media). She makes her case but then contradicts it, as regards her being in the house, the blood on the floor, the dead body, weapons, explaining that she was confused and gave contradictory answers to the interrogations. The screenplay emphasises the fact that she was only 20.
So, what the film does, is lay out a range of facts, show the work of the police and the detection, their lack of sympathy for Amanda Knox, the interrogations, the questioning of Sollecito and Amanda blaming him. There is no solution as to who committed the murder, rather some possible scenarios and leaving the death as a mystery, even with the court sequences where Meredith Kercher’s mother attended as did Amanda Knox’s family.