Amanda Knox documentary - TV review

by Greg Dixon / 31 October, 2016

Amanda Knox.

True-crime documentary Amanda Knox is a short masterclass in lucid storytelling.

Has Netflix’s riotous success finally peaked? This isn’t keeping me up at night – although I confess I’m in a happy long-term relationship with the TV streaming service – but it appears things might not be as golden as last year.

Internationally, the US-owned company, after an extraordinarily successful 2015, has seen some share price volatility this year, with industry watchers concerned about the sustainability of the service’s financial model long term, though its latest growth figures are better than expected.

Locally, too, it’s taken a hit, with a 15% price jump earlier this month after the Government forced the service – after pressure from Netflix’s local competitors – to pay GST. Predictably, some of Netflix’s more temperamental local subscribers had tantrums on Facebook, threatening, like so many spoilt children, to cancel the service.

Well, they’d be mugs if they did. As value for money goes, I think Netflix has it all over the local competition – Spark’s Lightbox and Sky’s Neon – and not just because Netflix has made and screened some of the most talked-about and exciting TV drama this year, including Stranger Things and the madly over-the-top The Get Down.

Simply put, it is the continually growing depth and breadth of its content that lift Netflix above its competitors, not least in a genre that gets much less press than the rest: documentaries.

Lightbox certainly has a handful of wonderful wildlife and travel series. But the large Netflix catalogue has some of the best new (and older) docos I’ve seen in recent times, including the true-crime Making a Murderer, but also Alex Gibney’s terrific Sinatra: All or Nothing at All, the Nina Simone biography What Happened, Miss Simone? and Best of Enemies, a vivid account of the 1968 TV debates between Gore Vidal and William F Buckley Jr. And there isn’t just excellent pointy-headed stuff. They do great trash-culture docos, too; I heartily recommend We are Twisted F---ing Sister and Atari: Game Over.

If the 10-part series Making a Murderer was last year’s hit true-crime documentary, this year’s may be Amanda Knox, which began streaming here on Netflix on September 30.

Coming in at a crisp 92 minutes, this is an examination of the awful and much-publicised murder of a young British woman, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, in 2007. Most will hardly need reminding of the dreadful circus that engulfed and ultimately convicted US student Amanda Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and for some, this detailed documentary about what happened to Kercher, Knox and Sollecito may be too much, too late.

But Amanda Knox is a short master class in lucid storytelling, carefully laying out the case from its beginning in 2007 (the bloody police video included) until the final exoneration of Knox and Sollecito by the Italian Supreme Court last year.

Almost all the key players have spoken to the film-makers (but not the Kercher family), although some come off better than others.

It becomes clear that the original prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, let his Catholicism influence his judgment of Knox’s sexual history, and his ego blind him to his errors, even when the DNA evidence clearly suggested Knox and Sollecito weren’t involved.

The other unprofessional player here is a Daily Mail journalist, Nick Pisa. A more odious example of a tabloid hack is hard to imagine – he’s like some sort of parody – made worse by his pathetic excuses and evasions for indefensible reporting, while bragging about how having his byline on the front page is “better than sex”. No wonder people hate and distrust journalists.

But it is Knox who is the most interesting to watch, and she plainly makes a case for being a victim, too: “Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing or I’m you.”

So, did she do it? Sign up to Netflix and decide for yourself.

Amanda Knox is screening on Netflix now.

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