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No Stone Unturned Review

No Stone Unturned is a documentary about the unsolved 1994 Loughinisland massacre where six Irishmen were murdered while watching the World Cup at the local pub.

At the heart of Alex Gibney‘s often chilling and complex documentary is the loss of six men, something he never lets us forgets in a film that seeks to reopen the investigation into their murder and decipher the motivations and consequences of a brutal and shocking attack. While the conflicts in Northern Ireland and the decades of spilt blood over the constitutional status of the region, termed The Troubles, lies at the dark core of the massacre, it is the faces of these few fallen men that linger and come to represent the larger message of the film, one that offers attempts for offer closure in a heavily stylized way.

Beginning with a disturbing re-enactment, we follow a pair of headlights as they break the evening gloam and head for a small pub in Loughinisland, where a group of men have gathered to watch Ireland play in the 1994 World Cup. The excitement of the game is broken by the thunder of machine guns as bullets bear down and kill six of the fans, the oldest 87 years old. The killers move off and are never found, though later the Ulster loyalist paramilitary group UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) take credit. In the horrific aftermath, a town is devastated, united in shock as the Crown and the Pope offer condolences and the local police, addressing the victim’s families, swear no stone will be left unturned in bringing the killers to justice. More than twenty years on, they still wait.

Gibney, an Academy Award-winner for his evocative documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, knows how to inspire his viewers, and does best in setting up this intriguing story, taking us into the town and the people involved, greatly humanizing the tragedy, though it is the in-depth examination of the history leading to it and the almost bizarre handling of the case for years after that compel even more. Indeed, we learn that the oath the police made in serving justice to these families is one soaked in half-hearted investigations, incompetence or outright unwillingness to do so. As we become engrossed in these failures and the effect on those waiting for hope, it’s nearly impossible not to be moved and even angered by the ordeal.

Gibney is clearly moved by it as well, making himself a part of the experience, his on-camera voice growing impassioned with questions. He digs through a mountain of information and evidence, stitching together an impressive collection of interviews and historical records, looking to form a larger picture that brings to focus the whys and more importantly, the whos behind it all, revealing something which makes the event all the more tragic.

Admittedly, one’s taste for Gibney’s theatrics will be the measure for how much this will ultimately have impact. This is a documentary that almost glorifies the killings in some respects, the re-enactment one staged and filmed like a Hollywood drama, with slow-motion images of bullets and recoiling weapons. It’s all very respectful of the subjects and works to be as harrowing as it should be, but there is less neutrality to it than clear bias as he struggles to find answers for people he is surely highly connected to. Perhaps that is the right stance, especially considering how much it has left the small community shaken, even decades on. There is great frustration behind the film, deservedly so, and while Gibney and the filmmakers maintain an impressive investigation of their own, it’s not without some flair that often leans more toward drama. Still, this is a gripping story and the people whose voices have long been waiting to be heard make for an unforgettable experience.

No Stone Unturned Review

Movie description: No Stone Unturned is a documentary about the unsolved 1994 Loughinisland massacre where six Irishmen were murdered while watching the World Cup at the local pub.

Director(s): Alex Gibney

Genre: Documentary

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