Will the New Amanda Knox Movie, 'Face of an Angel,' Convince Audiences Of Her Innocence?
Foxy Knoxy. That’s how many of us used to know Amanda Knox, the woman who, in 2007, was convicted of killing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, despite the existence of evidence pointing to her innocence. After serving two years in prison following the questionable decision, Knox was acquitted... and, in late January, was found guilty yet a second time by a retrial in the Italian court. Unless you’ve been in hibernation for the past month (we wouldn't blame you in this weather), you already know this — the acquittal was covered by almost every media outlet, including ours. But, unless you were in hibernation for the past seven years, you also know that during Knox’s trial in 2009, the media ripped Knox apart.
Tales of her supposed one-night stands, stories of Knox and then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (who was also convicted of the murder in 2007, and during the retrial), and details about her marijuana use made headlines worldwide. Later, in 2011, after Knox was acquitted of the murder and her original conviction was overturned, a Lifetime movie, Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy, premiered with actress Hayden Panettiere playing the role of Knox. Despite the mixed movie reviews, with the film receiving a 69 percent rating from Metacritic and only a 38 percent audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, movie critics made it clear that the Lifetime feature seemed to lean in favor the Italian police who investigated the crime, despite there being no physical evidence of Knox having killed Kercher. As Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “This ethically debatable movie depicts her as a brat abroad, enjoying sex and drugs with her boyfriend, and implies Knox (who is appealing her conviction) did the deed.” Similarly, Linda Stasi of the New York Post wrote, “After watching the movie, I may not have actually changed my mind about her innocence — but for the first time, I sure have doubts.” (Knox’s family allegedly contacted Panettiere, asking her to meet with their daughter before starring the first Knox film. When it aired, Chris Mellas, Knox’s stepfather, spoke out about their distaste for it, saying, “We have to act to protect Amanda, given the biased nature of the content in the trailer, and the unknown, and potentially harmful content of the actual film. The movie harms Amanda’s presumption of innocence as afforded her by the Italian constitution.”)
But now, with a new beat in the story, Knox followers are hoping for another film. (Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson even gave Hollywood filmmakers some casting and theme suggestions.) And, what do you know? A new movie about Knox’s trial, Face of an Angel, screened last week at Berlin’s European Film Market. Would this film counter Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy and balance things in favor of Knox, who has been supported by innocence projects? Perhaps — the film focuses around the case's trial and investigation, which proved to be faulty thanks to the lack of DNA evidence against Knox and her then-boyfriend. Unfortunately, the trailer that was recently released doesn’t give us too much insight on what to expect in terms of the film's bias. (And the description of the film, following a filmmaker's attempt to make a movie about the case before he "becomes increasingly disturbed by the dark medieval atmosphere surrounding the case and begins to fall into his own personal hell," gives limited insight as well.)
On the one hand, the name of the film itself doesn't seem to support Knox — the media latched onto ridiculous stories of Satanic sex cults involving Knox because she appeared to, yes, have the Face of an Angel. And the faux story about Knox's guilt is far more intriguing than the story of her innocence. Would audiences be content with a story about a woman whose roommate was tragically murdered by a relative stranger? The media cycle in 2007 says otherwise.
But, with any luck, Michael Winterbottom’s movie will show us something we haven’t already seen. I don’t want to know about how Knox apparently did cartwheels in the police station or how she had sex with her boyfriend — we've seen these details reported countless times, for some reason. For once, I want the cold, hard facts.
Image: BBC Films