THE WOMEN AND THE MURDERER focuses on a few women whose dogged attention helped bring France's first serial killer to justice. Anne Gautier's daughter Helen was raped and murdered in 1995, but the Paris police seemed to be getting nowhere. Gautier, interviewed recently and seen in many clips from the 1990s, launched her own tireless investigation, canvassing neighborhoods, interviewing witnesses, and trying to put the pieces together, all the while pressuring the police to do more to spare other, future families the agony of Gautier's loss. Martine Monteil, one of the only women on France's most elite police team, the Serious Crime Unit, is chief of that storied unit now as she recounts the arduous and frustrating process of finding the killer before he harmed more innocent women. Equally intrigued by the case was reporter Patricia Tourancheau, a co-director on the film. Like Chief Monteil, she toiled in a male-dominated field, working hard to be taken seriously by colleagues and the world. The male-female dynamic plays out further as the murderer nears trial and his male attorney invites a woman to be co-counsel, a calculatedly good look for the defense team of a serial rapist-killer. The plea is "not guilty," despite his detailed confession to police. The low expectations the public had of women in France, even in the 1990s, is a subtopic here, and underscores the brutal attacks that the killer perpetrated solely on female victims. We finally learn that the perp, deemed a "narcissistic psychopath" by psychiatrists, was in and out of French prisons for a variety of assaults against women by the time he began his killing spree in 1991. Despite confessing to the crimes, he pleads innocent at trial. The man is now 58, serving a life sentence. Investigators follow mistaken leads: The police sketch isn't an exact representation of the killer's face. Bloody toe prints at one crime scene are misleading. The epilogue is a remarkable account and moving description of a mother's compassion for the man who killed her daughter.