Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy Movie Poster Image
Graphic biopic on notorious murder trial is too sensational.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Fight for what you believe in.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amanda Knox's parents are portrayed as faithful and devoted to their daughter to the end; everyone else in the movie is presented with questionable motives.

Violence

Reenactment of the grisly murder from multiple theories and angles ranging from a woman writhing on the floor with a slit throat, covered in blood and gasping, to scenes of a woman being held, stabbed, and possibly raped, to frequently shown morgue photos of a woman's throat injuries. A body is shown discovered on the floor, bloody, covered by a blanket. Drops of blood in the bathroom and graphic descriptions of the scene and crime from multiple theories and angles throughout, including at the trial for dramatic effect. 

Sex

Frequent descriptions of theories of the crime, including whether the victim was raped or had consensual sex. Amanda Knox and her boyfriend are shown canoodling, kissing, in bed together presumably after intercourse, and recounting making love in her interrogation as part of her alibi. Discussions of HIV/AIDS, as well as a forced recounting of Knox's sexual history. 

Language

"Brat," "slut" (said jokingly between female friends).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Celebratory champagne; reference to guys dealing hash and weed; drinking at a bar; smoking cigarettes in bed; multiple references to smoking joints.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy is a dramatic, graphic biopic recounting the real-life murder of English student Meredith Kercher in 2007 while she was studying abroad in Italy and the trial of her American roommate, Amanda Knox, and Knox's Italian boyfriend. Much like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, it recounts the crime in frequent flashbacks and from multiple angles and theories over and over again, so there is bloodshed and frequent, graphic descriptions of the weapon, method, and motive, often showing a woman being stabbed and possibly raped in multiple scenes. There also are frequent references to drug dealing, smoking joints, having sex, and some inappropriate affection between Knox and her boyfriend during emotionally heavy moments. There's also a lot of intense questioning and crying during interrogation. Not much here that you likely didn't already read from news reports, and much too disturbing for young kids.

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What's the story?

While studying abroad in Italy, English exchange student Meredith Kercher turns up dead, and her American roommate Amanda Knox (Hayden Panetteire) soon becomes the prime suspect. Knox goes from fun-loving, partying college kid to a stressed-out, emotionally tormented murder suspect who alters her story, makes false accusations, and struggles to prove her innocence against a corrupt system and lots of bias. 

Is it any good?

It's a jumbled work that trades insight for sensation, and whatever interesting questions could be raised about this notorious trial aren't given enough room to breathe. The film chooses to simply rehash everything in gory detail and let viewers decide for themselves. No one knows what really happened the night of the Meredith Kercher murder in Perugia, Italy, in November of 2007, and unfortunately, nothing in the film gets us any closer to finding out.

Instead, we have a sensational amount of graphic detail and bloodshed, a decent turn by Hayden Panetteire, but a biopic so fascinated with the lurid detail that we never get a sense of these characters other than what feels like a lot of straight-from-the-headlines patchwork after the fact. And because there's so much real-life disturbing detail about this murder, which was thought to be everything from a drug deal gone bad, to a violent group sex orgy gone bad, to a simple argument between flatmates gone bad, it's just a sickening watch from start to finish, with Knox's alleged weird behavior tossed in just enough to make you question her sanity, if not guilt. Unless you have a vested interest in seeing what you've likely already read years ago, it's probably not worth watching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's angle. What do we learn about this trial from the film? Do the filmmakers uncover anything you weren't aware of, or do they probe in ways you felt produced anything useful? Why, or why not?

  • Did this film convince you of Knox's innocence or guilt? Why, or why not? 

  • Were the violence and bloodshed and frequent repetition in this film necessary to tell the story? Why, or why not?

Movie details

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