Producers of the Lifetime original movie Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy, said the film's portrayal of the real-life Knox, the American student convicted of murder in Italy, was meant to be impartial. Was it?
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Not entirely. Maybe it was just Hayden Panettiere's take on Knox as an upbeat college student who appeared indifferent after her roommate's death that left me cold after watching Monday's premiere — and perhaps leaning toward feeling like Knox was guilty of the crime.
Knox was convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher while studying in Perugia, Italy in 2007. An appeals trial is underway. Knox's lawyers this month tried to block the airing of the film, even while producers insisted audiences would be left wondering as to whether the then-20-year-old student had done it.
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Former Heroes star Panettiere said she had studied footage of Knox in court to get her mannerisms down. "Her lawyers told her to be herself," she said in January. "They said that she was always bubbly and happy, which was weird and creepy. But I genuinely think that's just who she was."
"My job was to play a girl who, regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was," Panettiere added. "I don't know that we'll ever really know."
At the same time, some of the film's attempts to find balance in favor of Knox feel forced. At one point in the drama, the police are shown apparently coercing a false statement from Knox, who, after hours of interrogation, claimed Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar Knox occasionally worked at, had committed the murder. Though Knox later said the statement was made under duress, Lumumba sued her for defamation and won. Knox is also being charged with slander for saying the police had threatened and assaulted her during questioning.
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In any case, the film doesn't illustrate or provide any sort of motive for Knox. Neither Kercher's nor Knox's families were involved in the production, and producers say they used the court records as their main source.
"We worked from an incredible amount of material from the courtroom itself, from all the press — American press and worldwide press," executive producer Trevor Walton said in January. "We pieced it together as impartially as possible ... so we feel that we've done this very responsibly and should have no effect whatsoever on any ongoing trial."
Do you think the film stayed impartial? Hit the comments with your thoughts.