Cinema Review: No Stone Unturned

Posted 11 months ago in Cinema Reviews

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Director: Alex Gibney

Released: 10 November

Acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Going Clear) investigates the massacre carried out by the UVF in a pub in Loughinisland on the 18th of June 1994. Six Catholic civilians were killed while they watched the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup. A victim’s wife tells Gibney that an RUC Officer promised her they would leave no stone unturned in their search for the culprits: “But I don’t think they lifted a stone, never mind turning it.” No murderer was brought to justice.

I was curious to see what a documentarian of Gibney’s pedigree might elucidate about ‘The Troubles.’ But alarm bells started to sound during the opening sequence in which flute laments are played over a flashy re-enactment of the killings. Such recreations always come off tawdry and televisual. I began to dread what was to come, expecting to find a documentarian righteously parachuting into a community’s suffering.

Thankfully, such concerns are soon allayed when Gibney gets down to his investigative work, amassing interviews with people across the sectarian divide. His search for truth is thoroughgoing, in stark contrast to the RUC, whose efforts at first seem despicably meagre, and whose officers ultimately can’t escape the conclusion of collusion with the UVF.

There’s already been some inane talk suggesting that the film should’ve considered the idea that such whitewashing of case files could’ve been necessary to facilitate the peace process – an outrageous claim.

Gibney, to his credit, resists such neat revisionism. He portrays the mishandling of the investigation as an outright scandal, which of course it is. Just try telling the families of the victims that the stymying of the investigation was necessary for peace. Furthermore, Gibney doesn’t simplify anything, doing a good job of delineating the knotty complexities of the period’s internecine guerrilla warfare. All that pain shouldn’t be disavowed, and cannot be silenced. Otherwise the dead die twice. Gibney goes the distance. He is absolved of the odd bombastic flourish.

Words – Rory Kiberd



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