Amanda Knox

In the nine years since she was first accused of and jailed for murder -- then exculpated, only to be retried and found guilty again, and finally absolved -- Amanda Knox has learned a thing or two about performance. "Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing…," the 21st century's most infamous study-abroad student, now 29, says, directly addressing the camera, at the beginning of Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn's by-the-numbers documentary Amanda Knox. She pauses, then completes her sentence with this coup de théâtre: "…or I'm you."

The semi-provocative statement, so confidently delivered (and seemingly rehearsed), reminds viewers that anyone of us could be, as she was, imprisoned and ensnared in judicial incompetence for nearly a decade despite our innocence. But in the days and weeks following November 2, 2007 -- when Seattle native Knox, then 20, and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (another of the film's interlocutors) were arrested for the slaying of Meredith Kercher, Knox's roommate in Perugia, Italy -- the American "was extremely unconvincing in the role of the wrongfully accused," as Nathaniel Rich noted in his detail-dense "The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox" for Rolling Stone in 2011. As was widely reported at the time, and is rehashed, to diminishing effect, in Blackhurst and McGinn's film. Like too many recent documentaries, Blackhurst and McGinn's is filled with missed opportunities, and it ends as it begins, with Knox making a florid remark and then gazing intensely into the camera. Like the intro, the outro is flagrant stagecraft, but still more rewarding to parse than what's in between.


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