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The Crime Documentary You Need To Watch After Sophie: A Murder In West Cork

Currently at No. 8 on Netflix's coveted Top 10 list, the much-anticipated docuseries "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork," is making waves now that it has finally been released. The beating death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, sensational and horrifying at the time it took place in 1996 in Ireland, has only gained mythic qualities after decades of uncertainty. And this new three-part film, said to be the first such project on the murder done with the blessing of the victim's family (via The Irish Times), has generally been getting good reviews. The Guardian said that while the series would have benefited from a better interweaving of one version of events with the doubts and improprieties of police procedure, it provided a rounded portrait of the victim that "made her live again." 

But, if you found this story compelling, there's another crime documentary you should catch, if you have access. It's called "Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie," and it aired in May 2021 in five parts on Sky TV in the U.K. As you can tell, it's about the same case, but it's a different take on the crime. 

Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie isn't so sure Ian Bailey is guilty

Made by six-time Academy Award nominee Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "In the Name of the Father"), "Murder at the Cottage" is a five-part series that takes a different approach to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, framing it as part of the moviemaker's personal journey. The Irish Times called it "undeniably a gripping documentary" and said it "lacks the streak of ghoulishness running through much of the true-crime genre." 

However, it comes from a slightly different viewpoint than "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork," which mostly concludes that the lone suspect in the case, Ian Bailey, is guilty. "Murder at the Cottage," which had more involvement from Bailey because he said (via Joe) he felt the Netflix project would be "a piece of demonisation," allows viewers to consider the possibility that Bailey's purported guilt might be the result of a police conspiracy instead. Sheridan doesn't make a specific conclusion but crafts a case that allows for some doubt about Bailey's guilt. This resulted in the removal of the contributions by Toscan du Plantier's family at their request (via the Irish Examiner).

Reviewers say that this series, too, gives viewers a deeper sense of who Toscan du Plantier was (according to The Echo), as Sheridan talks to locals and others and tries to make sense of the events of that terrible day. If you loved "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork" and want to find out more about the circumstances and the victim as well as see a more well-rounded discussion of the main suspect, this is a must-see. However, it's currently available only to U.K. viewers via NowTV's streaming service, which is owned by original broadcaster Sky. Perhaps, though, if there's enough new interest generated in the case, it'll be made more available internationally.