Director: Alex Gibney
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In No Stone Unturned, American documentarian Alex Gibney turns his attention to The Troubles and a haunting unsolved massacre in the small village of Loughinisland, Northern Ireland. In 1994, Protestant UVF fighters opened fire in a pub, killing six civilians and injuring five more while they watched the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.
The police promised the mourning families that they would leave “no stone unturned” in their investigation. However, despite initial promise, very little progress was made and every suspect was released without charge. In 2011, at the request of the families, there was an inquiry into the initial police investigation. The report noted malpractice, but ruled out collusion between the police and the UVF. Dissatisfied, a second inquiry was ordered and Gibney follows the new investigation.
It’s a horrific story and one that has never received the coverage it merits. Through leaked reports and talking head interviews with the key parties, Gibney does some impressive detective work, piecing together information and cracking codes set by those who wished to obfuscate the truth. It’s thrilling to watch answers start to come together to bracingly real-world questions. And the film is enlightening beyond the World Cup massacre in this “perfect Irish community”. Gibney’s investigation leads him to all corners of the Northern Irish conflict and he details the social context insightfully.
The recreation of the killings, which is returned to throughout the film, evokes Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. However, the continuous use of slow-motion shots of assault rifles is conflicting. On the one hand, Gibney emphasises the consequence of every single round. On the other, such images are so bound to action movie indulgence that it comes across as an exploitative misstep in a crucial true story.
In the end, some truths are a step too far into the darkness, even for Gibney and his team, and the film falls shorts of full closure. It’s a very bleak and frequently upsetting watch and Gibney’s claims are still a way off counterbalancing the senseless horror of the massacre. No Stone Unturned plays like a harrowing political thriller. It may not offer the righteous closure of its fictional Hollywood counterparts, but it’s nonetheless a compelling study of an unbelievable piece of history.
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