The Staircase (2018)

Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

This is a documentary that just arrived on Netflix. It has 13 episodes and it includes 10 episodes originally part of a 2004 French film adding three episodes about his appeal 8 years later of his conviction.

The documentary focuses on the death of Kathleen Peterson on December 9, 2001. Michael Peterson was accused of killing his wife while he maintained that she accidentally fell down the stairs. The documentary takes a look at the trial and the family as they go through the trial.

First of all, it is always hard to see these documentaries when they are graphic in crime scene photos and this was a gruesome sight. And I found a lot of things about this film disturbing. This film started filming close to the date of her death. The family members (their kids) showed normal reactions in terms of suffering the loss of their mother yet being there for their dad. But some meetings with the lawyers where they are making jokes and laughing and knowing they were being filmed just felt wrong to me.

The documentary itself I think was too long and too biased for Michael Peterson, it would have been better as a documentary about the case without us seeing every move the family made, feature interviews yes but it gave him a voice and not enough voice for the victim, as an audience you find yourself rooting for him because all you see and hear is his point of view. Nothing in the film was conclusive anyway, is one of those things we might never know what happened.

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