Until I saw Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn‘s Amanda Knox (Netflix, 9.30) yesterday afternoon, I wasn’t fully convinced that the 29 year-old Knox was completely innocent of the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher. Knox had been sharing a small cottage with Kercher in Perugia, Italy, while studying as an exchange student. No hard evidence pointed to her guilt, but right after the murder Knox was fingered by Perugia police as a suspect, and soon after she began to be portrayed by tabloid journalists as some kind of deranged sex demon mixed with Lucretia McEvil, and we all know what women of her sort are capable of.
Ludicrous as this sounds, this is the impression I’d been fed but was too lazy to look into. I knew Knox had been convicted and exonerated twice by Italian courts (the second and final acquittal was rendered on 3.27.15 by the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome) but the coverage of her case had been so tainted with innuendo that there was (and still is in some quarters, I suppose) a suspicion that she’d somehow evaded justice. As recently as two years ago a mostly panned Michael Winterbottom film called Face Of An Angel toyed with the idea that an Amanda Knox-like femme fatale (played by Carla Delevigne) might not have been as pure as the driven snow.
Even if she hadn’t murdered Kercher Knox was still bad, the media myth went, because she’d fucked too many guys.
The #1 truth is that Amanda Knox didn’t kill anyone, and the #2 truth is that a black dude named Rudy Guede almost certainly did the deed. Which the Netflix doc explains quite clearly. Knox was railroaded by (a) incurious, overzealous prosecutors, (b) shoddy, second-rate forensics and (c) sensationalistic press coverage by the media but particularly the British tabloid press. In Blackhurst and McGinn’s view the two principal villains are the senior Perugia prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, who handled the case from the first report, and former Daily Mail muckraker Nick Pisa, who coined the term “Foxy Knoxy” and published excerpts from her jailhouse diary.
Why in the name of Christ did Amanda “break” under questioning and say untruthful things that got her in trouble with Italian authorities? And why did her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, say that he didn’t spend time with her on the night of the murder until 1 am, which would have allowed her, timetable-wise, to stab her roommate? Crazy. Really nuts. But truth and due process can sometimes be stranger than fiction. And Amanda Knox does an excellent job of digging into and summarizing the whole sordid mess. It’s really worth seeing for the craft and intelligence that went into it, and for the chance to meet Mignini and Pisa, a couple of real monsters who see themselves today as reasonably decent guys.