A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Women are powerful and dogged workers and investigators. Women are still regarded by many as inferior to men at certain jobs and treated accordingly.
Positive Role Models
A victim's mother refuses to give up until her daughter's killer is brought to justice. A female police chief works around the limitations of the system to identify the killer of young innocent women. A female journalist, mocked by her male colleagues, follows the story of the killer rapist and makes a film about the case. A victim who escaped the killer bravely faces him in court. A female defense attorney who believed in the innocence of her client admits she was wrong.
"Officer in Skirt Catches the Strangler" is the disrespectful headline describing a female police officer's work on a case in a French newspaper, underscoring prejudicial attitudes toward women in male-dominated workplaces. A French recruiting poster says, "The Police, A Man's Job." The victim who escaped the killer describes him as "Arabic," and police bulletins describe him as "North African," appellations that are used to be merely descriptive but can be interpreted as prejudicial.
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Violence & Scariness
The movie is about a serial rapist, torturer, and murderer responsible for at least seven killings and many more assaults. Stab wounds, cut throats, strangling, rape and assaults are mentioned, although crime scene photos are shown in black-and-white to minimize the graphic impact. The badly mangled car that Princess Diana died in is shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Breasts are depicted in paintings.
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"S--t," "scumbag," "piss," and "damn." "Vaginal swabs" and "sperm" are mentioned with respect to collected evidence.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Women and the Murderer is a 2021 French documentary (in French with English subtitles) about France's first serial killer, who raped, tortured, and murdered at least seven women over a decade and assaulted a dozen others. His capture and conviction helped overcome public resistance to establishing a DNA database that, once formed in 1998, would help to resolve hundreds of other crime cases. Given the nature of the violent crimes, the material is unsuitable for kids. Only black-and-white crime scene photos are shown, minimizing the horror to some degree, but verbal descriptions make clear that atrocities were committed. Breasts are depicted in paintings. Language includes "s--t," "scumbag," "piss," and "damn," and "vaginal swabs" and "sperm" are mentioned with respect to collected evidence. Female journalists and police officers deal with sexism in the workplace. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Women and the Murderer is a well-paced procedural that lays emphasis on the role that passionate and smart women played in cracking a case about attacks on women. Co-director Patricia Tourancheau was a journalist who followed this serial killer case as it played out, death by grisly death, in the 1990s in Paris, and her insights and knowledge make this riveting at times. Enlisting two of the opposing attorneys who faced each other in the two-week trial, the filmmakers reenact the trial's most dramatic moment to great effect. The film is so rich with material that any number of tangential issues could easily fill up several more 90-minute documentaries, including the frequent referral to the fact that France had never had a serial killer until that time, but that America has had plenty.
The film also carefully makes the argument against those who feared a DNA database would impinge on their personal privacy, as it was a painstaking file-by-file comparison of randomly collected DNA in police files that led to the killer's capture. Chief Monteil asks if people would rather have dead girls on their consciences than figure out a quick, efficient way to run matches. Had a computerized DNA database existed in the 1990s, the killer could've been caught years earlier, saving several women's lives.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.