Made by the production company Lightbox, ‘Sophie: A Murder in West Cork‘ is a three-part true crime Netflix documentary directed by John Dower.
French film and TV producer Sophie Toscan Du Plantier frequently visited the Irish coastal town of West Cork where she also owned a vacation home. Loved the community, they are horrified when a neighbor finds her dead in her yard late at night. As the police look into her film score composer husband, an ex-lover, and other leads, they soon become focused on a freelance journalist who seemed to have a weird obsession with the case. Despite him protesting his innocence, strange statements by him, his lack of an alibi, and the family of the victim thinking he is guilty lead the local police to focus their investigation on him. As the years go by, Sophie’s family begins to wonder if justice will be served and one man begins to wonder if he will go to jail for the crime.
The documentary is incredibly well-made. Using archival footage and interviews, we get an inside look into the justice system in both Ireland and France. The nature of the crime and the lack of justice for Sophie is truly shocking. You feel the frustration and the lack of resolution to the case. When you watch true crime, it is easy to forget that there is a real person who has been killed. This documentary makes sure you do not forget Sophie and I applaud them for that.
One of the frustrating things is how the police handled the investigation. As they focus on Ian Bailey as their prime suspect, other leads fade away. They arrest Bailey twice for the murder, but not for the domestic violence he inflicted on his girlfriend, which he admits happened during the documentary (though he claims self-defense).
As for Bailey, if he is innocent, he certainly does not do himself any favors. He proclaims his innocence, saying he did not even know Sophie. However, he makes several conflicting statements, lacks an alibi, and constantly inserts himself into the case. This behavior makes appear suspicious not only to the police but the community and Sophie’s family. Now Bailey is innocent until proven guilty and France behaved silly when they found him guilty in absentia in a show trial.
It is a shame that the investigation went so awry because the killer could have been caught early on. This documentary definitely is well-made and keeps Sophie’s case to the forefront.
Check out the trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some foul language, Disturbing topics, Thematic elements
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