A gripping and concise – if hardly authoritative – look at the conviction and eventual acquittal of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 murder of 21-year-old student Meredith Kercher, this even-handed documentary examines myriad colliding perspectives and provides a damning indictment of a deeply flawed legal system.
The real coup here, of course, is that directors Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn were lucky enough to secure new interviews with the titular subject herself rather than having to rely on dubious second-hand sources. Knox’s seemingly rational perspectives are juxtaposed with the opinions of lead prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, a semi-comical figure who frequently ascertains that his belief Knox was guilty was predicated on hunches and peculiar beliefs that the crime couldn’t have occurred any other way (even though it blatantly could have).
Much like the commentary of the press – who are represented here by vile Daily Mail slimeball Nick Pisa – the authorities cling to facets of Amanda’s life that bear no tangible proof of guilt – kissing Sollecito after finding out Kercher was dead, and her active sex life – rather than taking a more rigorous, forensic approach to solving the case.
Both the local Italian police and the media are hugely complicit in the absolute legal clusterfuck that followed, the authorities driven to close the case quickly to appease the grieving family and a public who firmly bought into the party line without much exterior thought. It’s particularly troublesome how so many still believe DNA evidence to be a 100%, open-and-shut deal, when an interview with several forensic experts here explains why that’s not the case at all.
And with all this, the film still finds time within its neat 92 minutes to look at Amanda as a person, both as the carefree young woman before the murder and the more mature but undeniably scarred individual she remains today. A closing interview with Kercher’s mother, however, reminds us of the real cost of this horrific tragedy.
Bringing together a fascinating trio of interview subjects along with a speedy through-line of the facts and unexpectedly gorgeous B-roll footage, Amanda Knox digs into a fascinating sliver of modern true crime and avoids tabloid cliches as it does so.
31 is available now on Netflix