Sophie: A Murder in West Cork – Netflix releases trailer for Toscan du Plantier true-crime series

‘Can you explain to me, why is this man free?’ one woman asks about Ian Bailey

The official trailer for Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, a true-crime series from Netflix on the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in December 1996 has been released. Video: Netflix

 

The murder, in December 1996, of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was a terrible crime – but it is also now an industry, with two documentaries about the case to be released in the next fortnight. The first, Jim Sheridan’s Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie, comes to Sky Crime on Sunday, June 20th. But it is likely to be overshadowed by Netflix’s Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, which has just dropped its first trailer ahead of its arrival on June 30th.

Toscan du Plantier receives the full Netflix true-crime treatment, judging by the two-minute promo. The streaming platform has secured exclusive access to the victim’s family, and we hear her father despair of the media circus that has accumulated around the killing. “Would it bring peace?” he wonders of the investigation into her murder. “You don’t get justice with the death of your daughter.”

Netflix promises its three-part documentary will ‘bring together, for the first time, the views of Toscan du Plantier’s family with Ian Bailey, the man at the centre of the investigation’

Other family members are less philosophical. “Can you explain to me, why is this man free?” asks one woman. She is referring to Ian Bailey, convicted in his absence in France of Toscan du Plantier’s murder at her holiday home at Toomore, near Schull.

Bailey isn’t interviewed in the trailer, but we see him from behind, rambling a lonely west Cork road. And Netflix promises that the three-part documentary will “bring together, for the first time, the views of her family with Ian Bailey, the man at the centre of the investigation”.

Much of the trailer will be familiar to Irish viewers – and to anyone who has listened to West Cork, the 2018 true-crime podcast that framed the case as an unsolved mystery unfolding against the stark beauty of southwest Ireland. It opens with local reports of the death and with the late Marian Finucane saying, “The brutal murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has shocked the public.”

West Cork was almost a character unto itself in the podcast. It seems Netflix will come at the story from a similar angle, portraying the area as a rural nirvana where crime is unknown (notwithstanding the many brutal murders in Cork city and county through the 1990s). “Tortured, calm, stormy”, says one family member, appearing to suggest Schull and its rugged environs had an almost spiritual component for Toscan du Plantier. “There you have Sophie’s spirit.”

Locals are interviewed, too. “We had no experience of serious crime,” says one. “He appeared at the crime scene. He was asking strange questions,” offers another, presumably in reference to Bailey.

“In making this documentary we wanted to honour Sophie, her family and that rural community in the south west of Ireland,” Suzanne Lavery, the documentary’s producer, says. “Even now I find it genuinely astonishing that something so terrible could have happened not just to a woman who appeared to have such a gilded life but in such a beautiful place and to a community that prided itself on its peacefulness, its safety and inclusivity.”

“I’m a great believer in ensemble film-making with a large cast of storytellers, because a story is never simple,” adds its director, John Dower. “You need all those different takes and angles to get to the richer, more compelling stories. I also always look for people who have genuinely lived the story we are telling.”

The coup is the participation of the victim’s family. There will be interviews with her son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, parents, George and Marguerite Bouniol, uncle Jean Pierre Gazeau, aunt Marie Madeleine Opalka, and cousin Frédéric Gazeau, who also serves as an associate producer.

But will the documentary add meaningfully to our understanding of the case, help achieve justice for Toscan du Plantier and bring closure to her loved ones? These are the questions Netflix must answer on June 30th as it pours further fuel on a mystery that has, across the past quarter-century, taken on an existence of its own.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.