Amanda Knox

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Amanda Knox Movie Poster Image
Docu on sensationalized murder trial has graphic depictions.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As a documentary that views a murder trial and the sensationalism in infotainment masquerading as legitimate news and sloppy police work that came out of it, there isn't much in the way of positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While there remains controversy as to whether she's innocent or guilty, Amanda Knox has used her "celebrity status" to advocate on behalf of the wrongly accused. 

Violence

Graphic discussion of a murder, with archival video footage of the crime scene, replete with blood and a murdered body covered by a blanket. Graphic descriptions of a stabbing in the chest, including a computer-animated reenactment of one of the theories of how the murder took place. 

Sex

Discussions of a newly dating couple "making love." Some mentions of past sexual encounters; nothing overly graphic besides whether or not a condom was used. Headlines of the murder discussed in the documentary describe it as an "orgy" and a "drug-fueled sex game." 

Language

Frequent profanity, including use of "f--k." "Bitch." "Bulls--t." "Goddamn." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Reference made to smoking pot, including a picture of Amanda Knox holding a joint. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amanda Knox is a 2016 Netflix Original Documentary about a well-known murder trial in which a young American woman living in Italy was charged, along with her boyfriend, with the murder of her roommate, and the sensationalized media coverage of the trial. There's archival video footage of the crime scene -- the apartment where the murder took place, with shots of blood, as well as the murdered body covered with a blanket. The media coverage, in the midst of its frenzy, openly discussed Knox's sex life, and also used headlines with words like "orgy" and phrases like "drug-fueled sex game" when describing the reason for the murder. There's also frequent profanity, including use of "f--k." Reference to smoking marijuana, along with a picture of Knox holding a joint. Overall, for older teens and parents, this documentary should provoke interesting discussions on the differences between news and "infotainment," why this trial attracted such intense international scrutiny, the ramifications of possibly falsely accusing someone and what that does to their lives, and, ultimately, what the family of the murdered victim must endure while in the maelstrom of this spectacle while already immersed in the grieving process. 

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What's the story?

The documentary AMANDA KNOX follows the events of November of 2007, Meredith Kercher, an English exchange student living in Perugia, Italy, was found murdered in her apartment. Shortly afterward, her roommate, an American exchange student named Amanda Knox, and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were charged with the murder, based primarily on witnesses who perceived Knox's response to the murder as being inappropriate and insensitive. This led to their arrests, and a subsequent tabloid media frenzy that painted Knox as a manipulative femme fatale who goaded her boyfriend and another man into a "drug-fueled sex game" that led to the murder. Knox and Sollecito were charged, found guilty, served time in Italian prison, and over the course of several years, were later acquitted, charged again, then acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court. This documentary interviews the "lead characters" of this internationally covered trial -- Knox, Sollecito, the detective who investigated the case, the tabloid reporter who fueled and exploited any of the juiciest potential details to a public eager for salacious gossip -- and looks into what exactly happened, and the aftermath of these events. 

Is it any good?

What distinguishes this movie from any other media coverage of Knox and those involved in her sensationalized murder trial is the attempt to dig deep and try to understand everyone involved. If anyone emerges as really and truly guilty, it's a media climate that favors sensationalized, exploitative, and just plain sleazy coverage of trials like these with readymade narratives involving attractive young women over devoting time to stories that demand nuance, substance, and importance to society as a whole. One of the saddest elements to Amanda Knox -- besides, of course, the gruesome murder of Meredith Kercher -- is the almost near-shameless complicity in which Tony Pisa, the tabloid reporter in the documentary who "broke" so many of the aspects to Amanda Knox's personal life (including obtaining her prison diary from an unnamed source) admits to exploiting the desires of so many media consumers for what amounts to little more than salacious gossip.

For those who closely followed the trial, it's hard to say whether or not this will change anyone's already made-up mind. However, what emerges from the documentary is that it's hard not to think of terms like "witch hunt," and it's Knox herself who makes the most compelling arguments for her innocence. But what especially makes this movie important is that while it certainly centers on the character assassinations, sloppy police work, and exploitative media coverage, it never lets the audience forget that the ultimate tragedy in all of this was that a young woman was brutally murdered. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways in which Amanda Knox tried to present all sides of the story after the fact while also presenting the events as they were covered by the media and investigated by the police. What would be the challenges in making a documentary like this? 

  • How did this documentary humanize the "main players" in a sensationalized murder trial that oftentimes seemed more like a fictionalized crime drama than something in which real people were involved? 

  • Why do you think the media spent so much time on this one murder while glossing over (if not ignoring) so many other murders that happen nearly every day in so many American cities? 

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries and true stories

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