The Fourniret affair on Netflix: “Serial killers are not superheroes” – Did Michel Fourniret rage in Brittany?

Why did you devote a documentary to Monique Olivier?

It’s teamwork. There are two producers with me, as well as Christophe Astruc, co-director and director of photography. It was Delphine Kluzek, one of the producers, who had this brilliant idea. Brilliant because I had already worked on Michel Fourniret (died in 2021, Ed), as part of a documentary for W9. And Fourniret, that does not fascinate people. Which is not the case for Monique Olivier. Because of criminal couples, there is only one in France. It also questions the role of the woman, who is normally someone who gives life and not who takes it away. How could she do this? The mothers of victims told me that they are more angry with her than with him, because she is a mother. And a mom doesn’t do that.

How long did it take you between the start of the investigation and the broadcast of the documentary on Netflix?

Two and a half years. For five episodes, it’s not disproportionate, it’s normal. It’s a lot of work. The difficulty was to find Monique Olivier in Fourniret. Because she has a talent for going unnoticed. She has the genius to discourage everyone. At the start, everything is normal with Monique Olivier in her childhood in Nantes. Even if she has a feeling of abandonment, her mother caring more for her grandmother than for her. There is nothing that justifies what is going to happen, except a very deep feeling of being useless and of not counting for anyone. For all this, it was complicated to get Monique Olivier, unlike Michel Fourniret who always puts himself forward and positions himself as the master of crime, with an inordinate ego. She was a tool for him. And in his head, he was the designer of everything. But Monique Olivier’s responsibility is overwhelming.

Michelle Fines, co-director of the documentary “The Fourniret affair: inside the head of Monique Olivier”, broadcast on Netflix. (Michelle Fines)

We talked to all the shrinks about Monique Olivier. No one understood who this character was

There is a very anxiety-provoking tone given to this documentary, which has generated some criticism. Was it your will? A request from Netflix?

It’s less anxiety-provoking than many documentaries. It is above all the music that generates tension. But on the contrary, our concern was, as we knew that the stories would be difficult to collect, to try to aestheticize and avoid unbearable scenes. Through the formidable production of Christophe Astruc, we were inspired by fantastic tales so as not to show what cannot be shown. There is never any blood, only tight shots, a furtive silhouette… We are behind the door which is ajar.

After these months of investigation, do you feel you have succeeded in unraveling the Olivier mystery? Psychiatric expertise shows in particular that she is endowed with great intelligence, more important than Michel Fourniret, who nevertheless seemed to have the upper hand over her.

We talked to all the shrinks about Monique Olivier. No one understood who this character was. Neither us, nor any of the shrinks, magistrates or police officers who approached her. Fourniret, he’s mad, he’s completely mad. But in his personality, there are rules. Her is completely different. She’s an incredibly amazing woman. There is something inhuman about her. She has no empathy for people, she is very self-centered. It is a characteristic that we find in serial killers, even if she has not been convicted for it. She shows no feelings. She is very disconcerting. She has an indifference to everything. She can laugh at a search scene.

You have never met Monique Olivier. We just hear his voice through his lawyer’s phone. It was not possible to see her?

No. She’s in solitary confinement and we can’t meet her.

You would have liked?

Yes of course. And at the same time, I’ve done serial killer interviews twice in the past. These are people so preoccupied with pretending to be “Mr. and Mrs. Everybody” that they are uninteresting. We recovered photos from the family album of Fourniret and Olivier. It’s incredibly the life of “Mr. and Mrs. Everyone”, and we observe that it is she who is at the center of the table. We see a fulfilled woman and not a victim as she wishes to pass herself off.

We wanted in this series that the victims are at the center

When you embark on a job like yours, there is a risk. It is that of the rehabilitation of a person who participated in perhaps the worst criminal enterprise of the last forty years. Of course you thought about it.

It was part of the big discussions we had with the two producers. The risk is indeed a panegyric of the serial killer. And it’s quite easy because they are madly cynical. But this is not correct vis-à-vis the families of victims. It is impossible for them to bear. But we wanted in this series that the victims are at the center. Serial killers are not superheroes. We must remember that behind all this, there is the suffering of families. The consequences are unimaginable.

Rennes is very present in this documentary, in particular because Monique Olivier was imprisoned in the women’s prison until 2019 (before her confession to the murder of Estelle Mouzin, which led to her transfer to Fleury-Mérogis, editor’s note) .

In prison in Rennes, Monique Olivier had girlfriends; those who swayed and betrayed her. I went to the women’s prison for interviews. We went to shoot images: the corridors, a cell that looked like Monique Olivier’s, the courtyard for walks, the kitchen and the hairdresser, which is important for Monique Olivier because she is quite pretty.

There is also a character who is very present in your documentary, it is Francis Nachbar, the prosecutor who followed the whole affair. A reference again to Rennes since he was general counsel at the Court of Appeal.

He is someone central and essential but who no longer spoke because he had been very criticized by the press. But he had a lot to say. He threw himself headlong into this affair, always with the families of the victims in mind. Answering them was his concern. He did his best to find as many of the bodies of the victims as possible. He needed to talk and tell how much this case had upset him. He took her in the face. He had nightmares.

The problem is that we don’t have the DNA of the victims. No one thinks of making a file in France

You deliver a scoop in this documentary, it is this list of victims provided by Michel Fourniret to an inmate. A partially empty list with 35 boxes. We can therefore see the extent of the work that awaits the investigators. The Telegram has just revealed that they are particularly interested in the murder of Marie-Michèle Calvez in Finistère, in the 1990s, a time during which – until 2000 – no crime was attributed to the Fourniret-Olivier couple. Also time during which the tandem went on vacation every summer in Brittany. After making your documentary, do you really believe that Michel Fourniret and Monique Olivier were able to take a ten-year break in their criminal enterprise, a kind of “white period”?

There is no white period, it is impossible. People like that don’t stop. On the other hand, justice has stopped. It’s because we don’t have, in France, a judicial system adapted to serial killers. So we didn’t look elsewhere. Obviously crimes were committed in the 90s. When Fourniret says 35 in his letter, there are 35. He does not claim things he did not do. He is a precision worker. He is very precise, including in his crimes. I went to Brittany as well as in the footsteps of Monique Olivier in Nantes. I went to the cousins ​​where they went on vacation, near Penmarch. There is enough to make a unit of gendarmes or police work for another twenty years. What’s completely crazy about this story is that we have DNA in Fourniret’s van, on a mattress, complete DNA on the cushions of the van. We have maybe twenty. But the problem is that we don’t have the DNA of the victims. No one thinks of making a file in France.

Since you made this documentary, has Monique Olivier haunted you? Does it occupy your thoughts?

No way. I moved on.

* “The Fourniret affair: inside the head of Monique Olivier”, documentary in five episodes broadcast on Netflix since March 2

Did Michel Fourniret rage in Brittany?

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