around the serial rapist, thirty years of silence

Christine Labot (Alix Poisson) and Laurent (Théo Costa-Marini) in the series “Sambre”, created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.


The story of the “rapist of the Sambre” is that of a dysfunction with formidable consequences. The one who allowed Dino Scala to and ly ault dozens of women over a period of thirty years, within a restricted area and with a remarkably consistent modus operandi, without being worried. We had to wait for yet another attack, in 2018, for cross-references to be made, for the DNA to finally “speak” and for the man to be identified and arrested.

To understand the reasons for such a legal fiasco, director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade uses the method of the series Laëtitia (2020) and builds his story based on the investigation of journalist Alice Géraud, Sambre. Radioscopy of a news item (JC Lattès, 400 pages, 21.50 euros), published in January. The result is a fiction of great accuracy, which combines documentary precision with inventive dramaturgy, and thwarts the pitfalls of true crime as it is produced today, that is to say on the embly line.

Besides, Sambre chooses from its first images not to fit into the codes of the detective series. Here, no mystery, no crime to elucidate, because the culprit is designated from the start – it is Enzo, affable and popular worker, married and father of a family, model employee and football coach for the local kids . “I know everyone here, and everyone knows Enzo!” », the young man is jubilant in the first episode, when he shows a new kid around the factory. Indeed, everyone knows, but no one suspects, this man who spots his prey on the road, early in the morning, as they go to work. What he does to them next is left offscreen – Sambre carefully keeps at bay the pathos and voyeurism too often ociated with violence against women.

Rather than the actions, Lestrade films the consequences. The bruised bodies of the victims, their stunned faces, the traces that leaves on daily life, the couple, the family. The fear, the shame, the silence. Silence which weighs all the more heavily as the victims escape alive. No one died and, “Here, we try to limit paperwork”, warns a police officer. The rapist also inflicts a double punishment, both on his victims and on the north of France, devastated by deindustrialization which accelerated in the 1980s. Nobody wants to talk about what is happening there. . Sambre is the story of a rapist who continues to act not because he is elusive, but because the victims’ words are neither audible nor heard.

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