Amanda Knox 2016

Amanda Knox [2016], the latest feature-length documentary from Netflix, takes a fresh look at the events surrounding the high-profile Meredith Kercher murder case. With a particular focus on the involvement of Amanda Knox throughout the investigation, the documentary re-examines the facts of the crime, the influence of the frenzied media, and Knox’s potential guilt.

So-so Content: What makes this documentary relevant is the directors’ unique access to Knox, allowing key incidents to be analyzed from her perspective with the addition of personal interviews. This is arguably the first documentary to be able to boast an exclusive, extensive look at the crime through the eyes of Knox herself. Included are clips from Knox’s home video collection and footage of her resuming life back in Seattle, a year after her last visit to Italy. However, a lack of interesting sources brings the film down a notch, with the same three or four experts and witnesses being trotted out over and over again to explain their involvement and provide an opinion. They may represent both sides – for or against Knox – but they are just a small collection of a larger crowd. For a feature-length documentary, it’s rushed and a little tired. A reliance on the audience knowing a basic outline of the crime also lets the quality of the film slip. Knox addresses the viewer as if they know her story. Anyone watching on a whim after browsing through new content on Netflix might want to skim Wikipedia before they press play. For those who have kept up with the case over the years, do not expect to be handed shocking new evidence.

Spoiled Structure?: The actual timeline of events relating to the case, again, feels rushed, with no real time to linger on the details presented to the audience. Blink and a step in the story has come and gone. This feeling could perhaps be a symptom of the recent True Crime surge. Considering the popularity of Netflix’s successful series Making a Murderer and investigative podcast Serial, those of us who have indulged in their content are used to an episodic structure – being fed each significant moment bit by bit to build up the bigger picture. Both are known for their addictive suspense but that is something this documentary noticeably lacks. Maybe Amanda Knox would have been more suited to the television genre? Maybe the film’s seemingly speedy pace only feels so fast due to the new true crime popularity surge with its usual structure of installments? It’s hard to tell.

Smaller Details: The documentary is altogether well edited. The graphics are clean and seamless, used to examine objects from the evidence room; display emails and messages dug out from the archives; and flick through cuttings from newspapers and magazines. With such a horrific crime taking place in one of Italy’s most stunning cities, Blackhurst and McGinn make good use of drones to capture some of Perugia’s famously beautiful scenery and architecture as well as grab aerial views of the crime scene. Back in Seattle with Knox, there are some gorgeous shots of her on a ferry and browsing newsstands in the rain, a slightly dark filter over the camera which adds to the overall atmosphere. A musical score does run throughout, but on some occasions, it seems totally out of place. An oddly peppy tune plays over a serious moment and it is almost laughable – not entirely appropriate for the difficult subject matter. The overall look of the film is glossy and modern, something that fits perfectly with Netflix’s original image.

What Amanda Knox [2016] lacks in content, it makes up for in style. While it won’t leave a mark on the true crime genre, it is a worthy addition to Netflix’s collection of original content.