No Stone Unturned (3 stars)

No Stone Unturned

Alex Gibney's latest is an absorbing, although not entirely satisfying take on the Loughinisland massacre

Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney turns his attention to the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in this forensic true crime doc that provides a measure of closure for the families involved, but offers no easy answers.

On the night of 18 June, 1994, just as the Northern Ireland peace process was gathering steam, two masked gunmen entered The Heights Bar in the small village of Loughinisland and opened fire, killing six patrons, all of them Catholics, who had gathered to watch the Republic of Ireland take on Italy in the World Cup.

It was quickly established that the men responsible were members of the loyalist paramilitary group the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and there were plenty of clues, including an abandoned getaway vehicle found nearby. Despite promises of justice from the then Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew, the case remained officially unsolved, with many suspecting a collusion between the police and the UVF, and a cover-up that may have extended into the higher echelons of the British government.

Disclosing a personal connection to the case (he had visited the area for a different project prior to the attack), Gibney takes a meticulous approach: interviewing witnesses, investigating officers and reporters who covered the story at the time. He also provides political context for the crime, exposing the shocking reality of tit-for-tat murders, as well as the fact that police forces routinely relied on embedded informants or 'touts'.

Gibney's cameras are also on hand for the results of the 2016 enquiry, which finally acknowledges the suspected collusion. Gibney's own investigation goes even further, taking the extraordinary step of naming the parties involved in the shooting, and even providing covertly filmed footage of them going about their daily business.

However, the wider cover-up remains frustratingly out of reach, with Gibney either unwilling or unable to name those responsible for obstructing the investigation. In addition, the filmmaker's over-use of shotgun footage in the reconstruction sequences feels like a tasteless misstep, especially considering how otherwise respectful the film is towards the victims and their families.

Limited release from Fri 10 Nov.

No Stone Unturned

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • US / UK
  • 1h 51min
  • Directed by: Alex Gibney
  • UK release: 10 November 2017

Documentary about the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland, in which two masked paramilitaries opened up in a small village bar and killed six patrons, all of them Catholics. Gibney’s meticulous approach provides convincing evidence for the collusion of police and the paramilitaries, but the wider cover-up…

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