The World Turned Upside Down
Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is a well-documented true crime foray into the killing of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier. Nestled deep in the heart of rural Ireland, her death sent ripples across the pond, all the way down to Sophie’s mother country of France.
During those pivotal moments before her death, Christmas loomed on the horizon. This French TV producer was staying in her holiday home in the tiny Irish town of Schull when her world was shattered.
On the night of her death, Sophie’s head was smashed in with a concrete block and her body found entangled in a mesh of barbed wire. It’s not just a sickening murder, it’s also the first that law enforcement in Schull had had to deal with.
So who did kill Sophie? And why? As the French authorities begin to close in on case – along with a ravenous pack of hungry reporters – Schull is transformed into the playing field of a mysterious and unresolved murder.
From folktales and circumstantial evidence through to eerie eye-witness accounts, A Murder in West Cork is a detailed account of what happened in the days leading up to the murder – and the years past that fateful night in 1996.
Among those interviewed are a number of residents around town, along with Sophie’s family and law enforcement. There’s also local reporter Ian Bailey too who soon becomes more important to this tale as the episodes tick by. For those unfamiliar with the case, I won’t spoil how he’s linked to all this.
After the first episode lays the foundations, the following two chapters then dive into possible suspects along with the long march for justice against who law enforcement believe is responsible for Sophie’s murder. With very little to go on from the crime scene, a lot of this is reliant on eyewitness reports. And these are a real mixed bag.
There’s plenty of incredulous reports about “howling at the moon” and “magic sticks” mixed with more eye-opening reports of drunken confessions and this specific suspect with a known history of violence against women.
Of course, because of that lack of evidence previously mentioned, a lot of the material here relies quite heavily on those eyewitness accounts. Unfortunately this evidence is among some of the most unreliable.
The subject of psychology can be brought up alongside this, but the gist is a lot of this investigation rests on testimonies like that. With voices on both sides of the argument, it’s difficult to gauge whether the chief suspect is actually innocent or not.
Unlike shows like Making A Murderer which dived into the evidence and looked at the cold, hard facts, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork does what it can with the little evidence on display.
This show is no less effective though and Netflix have a knack for creating absorbing and in-depth true crime docs. While it’s not the best of the year, this is still an absorbing and engrossing case brought to life respectfully on the small screen.
Verdict - 7.5/10