Guilt: Freeform Murder Amanda Knox Style – Preview

Daisy Head

Freeform distributes some pretty excellent television ‘Stitchers’ and ‘Shadowhunters’ to name but two. Now they are bringing out a murder mystery, titled ‘Guilt,’ in the style of real life murder suspect Amanda Knox. Knox was the American student caught up in a turgid sex tinged murder case in Italy back in 2007.

Knox, who was convicted twice and whose convictions were overturned twice, had a good friend murdered and Amanda and her Italian boyfriend were the main suspects.  The case made headline news as recently as 2015.

‘Guilt’ is set in London rather than Italy and the American student’s boyfriend is French rather than Italian.  Anthony Head plays Grace Atwood’s  stepfather James (Grace is portrayed by  Head’s  real-life daughter Daisy).   He is a ruthless business man who travels the globe for his business and prefers his lovers to be the same age as his student stepchild.

Emily Tremaine plays big sister Natalie who is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney who hates   James. Billy Zane  is the ex-pat lawyer who James hires to keep Daisy out of prison. New Scotland Yard are investigating and Daisy is her own worst enemy in terms of publicity.  

Zane is egotistical, eccentric and fun as the flamboyant lawyer who costs big bucks to hire and his character is destined to be disliked by Natalie on sight.

‘Guilt’ looks interesting. (How can it not with the obvious Amanda Knox influence?) The only issue with the series thus far is that it is an Americanized “watered-down” version of England.  For example, in one scene, the police officer  “on-scene”  tells the DSI that one of the suspects is a foreigner (French) and the other is American. This would not be the case. In reality both would be classed as foreign and Head’s character referred to as a “Yank.”

Unlike the Netflix series ‘River‘ which was English as afternoon tea and scones, ‘Guilt’ is set in an England that  the rest of the world sees. There is a royal family connection, a prince with a made up name,  a sex club and  prostitution.  Like many other productions set in the country made by foreigners, there are far too many red phone boxes.  (They were discontinued/retired with only a few left in “historical” areas for the tourists.)

This show is not doing anything different from other shows based in England (‘Guilt’ is shot in the UK actually) it seems that producers fear that  without the iconic phone boxes the viewer will never really believe that the show is set in England.

Being set overseas  the mystery of who killed Molly will be dealing with a “foreign” legal system (One that does not have the death penalty for a start.) with procedures and rules that are slightly different from the US. (And in some ways wildly different, check out their version of Miranda rights.)

There are a number of familiar English actors in the show: Anthony Head and Daisy Head, Robbie Gee, Naomi Ryan, Cristian Solimeno and Irish actor Kevin Ryan. The American contingent consists of Zane and Tremaine. The acting is top notch.

The clubbing scene in London  is presented quite well and the set design is pretty impressive as well. At the start each wall in the shared flat has wallpaper on it.  The slang is also pretty spot on: Tossers and bugger all, being just two examples that represent how real people talk in England.

There is a “50 Shades” thing going on with a BDSM club for those with a full bank account, or the fictional prince, or even James the stepdad.  The action is  centered in London and features some events that are clearly fictionalized (the public speaking ceremony at the memorial of Molly rings rather false).

Watching the two episodes on offer at the moment, the story grabs you and keeps the interest up.  Something to look forward to in June when it airs on Freeform, ‘Guilt’ may not be as down and dirty as ‘River’ but it does promise to deliver in terms of entertainment and mystery.

Worth a look, or two (that second episode cliff-hanger ending is to die for) so mark it on the calendar, June 13 on Freeform.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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