Plot summary (with spoilers): This Lifetime made-for-TV movie examines the circumstances of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher (played by Amanda Fernando Stevens) in Perugia, Italy. The crime made headlines around the world when Kercher’s roommate Amanda Knox (Hayden Panettiere), an American exchange student from Seattle, emerged as the prime suspect, along with boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (Paolo Romio).
The film, which mixes both fact and conjecture to “recreate” some of the major events of the story, shows how Knox and Sollecito got mixed up in the police investigation and why they were eventually indicted, tried, and convicted for Meredith’s murder. Knox is currently serving a 26-year sentence in Italy, while Sollecito is serving 25. Another perpetrator, Rudy Guede (Djibril Kébé), was convicted as well. He initially received a 30-year sentence, but it was reduced to 16 years because he apologized to Kercher’s family.
Knox and Sollecito are appealing their sentences.
- I thought Hayden Panettiere was wonderful in this movie! She looked a lot like the photographs of Knox that I’ve seen in newspapers, which really went a long way towards helping the performance seem convincing. I’ve never watched Panettiere in anything else before, so I was duly impressed by her skills.
- The film seemed pretty balanced to me. I know people have very strong feelings about this case, and they either believe that Knox was 100% guilty or that she was railroaded by an incompetent police force, prosecutor, and justice system. I personally feel that Knox is guilty, but I thought the movie left the question fairly open-ended. She wasn’t portrayed as a monster, nor did she come off as a victim. Honestly, I was expecting one or the other, so the balance was a nice surprise.
- The actor that played Raffaele bugged me every time he was on the screen. Ugh.
- The trial part seemed very rushed. It seemed that one minute it was opening arguments, and then in the very next scene, the verdict was being read. I would have liked to have seen more of the trial.
- The movie didn’t really bring any new facts or insights to the table. If you’ve followed the case in the newspapers, then you already know the whole story.
Viewers often dismiss made-for-TV movies without giving them a proper chance, but that would be a mistake with Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy. This is a good retelling of the story (as it appeared in the newspapers. Whether this is the truth or not remains to be seen, I guess.) and was very compelling to watch. I give the film 4 stars out of 5.