Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, is one of Netflix’s newest true-crime series offerings. Consisting of three episodes, the series examines the murder case of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, a French National that was murdered at her rural holiday getaway home in Schull, Ireland in 1996. Du Plantier’s murder was the first in over 100 years in the small town and remains technically unsolved.
The documentary had a wide variety of talking heads, from Du Planier’s family, friends, locals, various members of the Garda, and surprisingly, the main suspect. Du Planier’s private life seemed complicated, and it was definitely going to be utilized against her throughout the entire thing.
The case was interesting, Du Planier was found in a bramble bush a few days before Christmas. With seemingly no leads and a haphazard investigation, I didn’t know how they would end up with a suspect. The first episode set everything up, establishing what the town was like by interviewing the locals. There was even a little spookiness brought in. A few days before her death, Du Planier had visited some ruins and saw a white lady, which was an omen of death. Pretty interesting, and you wouldn’t think it was pertinent, however, Du Planier took it seriously.
If you watch enough true crime documentaries, you know normally what a killer would do, revisit the scene, be overly helpful, etc. It was clear as soon as they introduced the journalist that he was indeed the suspect. However, when the second episode started, the series was taken over by the main suspect, journalist and ‘poet’, Ian Bailey. As one of Du Planier’s family members quipped, he loves to be interviewed.
Somehow, Bailey had all of this insider knowledge and wrote somewhat salacious articles about Du Planier, painting her as this woman that entertained all sorts of men. He was also very adamant that the murderer was French, and probably her partner or another intimate partner. Bailey was somewhat charismatic, but a complete weirdo. It is common for law enforcement to go after the ‘others’ in society, so was he targeted because he was eccentric? Who knows, but it was clear that the Garda in this area had no idea as to what to do. They may have also had a little tunnel vision because the village creep was poking around the crime scene.
I’m all for presenting all sides to a case, but having the suspect take over in a very charismatic way is not the best approach. The Garda in the area, inexperienced in investigating murders, was obviously not equipped to deal with the investigation. It was clear from the beginning that it was the primary reason the case hasn’t been officially prosecuted in Ireland.
Whenever your documentary begins to get overtaken by the number one suspect, rather than the victim, I begin to have issues. It was also interesting that at the end of the series, there was actually a statement that Du Planier had been forgotten throughout the entire event, and while she was present, she wasn’t the centre of the story.
Bailey seems to be the most likely culprit, though, the Garda couldn’t have convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt. It was interesting that somehow in France, the evidence was considered solid enough for a conviction.
I did generally enjoy the documentary series, but again, I have an issue with the main suspect overshadowing the victim. Also, I didn’t feel like enough evidence was presented, and the majority of it was slightly repetitive. I’m interested to see if the case is ever resolved. Based upon the series, probably not.
Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is available on Netflix US, but is yet to be released in the UK
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.