By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Alex Gibney is the kind of documentarian who knows a good story when he sees it despite the subject matter, and who will file it away for later if he can’t do it immediately, but who always swings back around to it eventually, judging from his ridiculously prolific output.
36 mostly docs directed since he broke out with this one only 12 years ago
No Stone Unturned sees him returning to the subject of one of his sports-focused documentary shorts, the 1994 Loughlinisland pub massacre in which six men watching Ireland’s World Cup match were slaughtered by masked gunmen, and then overturning a whole hell of a lot of stones.
What unfolds under Gibney’s watchful (mechanical) eye is two decades delayed truth and justice finally being uncovered for the families of the victims who were promised “no stone unturned” but instead received the opposite. As one woman puts it, “I don’t think they ever lifted a stone, never mind turned it”. What some finally animated investigators, reporters, and even Gibney and his crew discover are the reasons for this miscarriage of justice- the fact that the English practice of running informants on both brutal sides of the explosive Northern Ireland Troubles tied their hands in truly morally twisted ways. When you have valuable informants killing less valuable informants, or just citizens, what do you do?
Look the other way, apparently.
I won’t go much further in the escalating revelations Gibney musters in this documentary, but there are many, all more tragically compromised than the last. In the end, when Gibney has tracked down a perpetrator of the slaughter living not five kilometers away from it, just how banal evil can be will send chills down your spine.
This documentary has been characterized in some circles as being an example of detective-work-as-documentary, pushing forward a stagnant investigation when nobody else will. Don’t go into this expecting the same, instead Gibney does an excellent job of finding the people who are still pushing forward to the truth, and tagging along with them as they do it. It’s well-timed, but not quite as incredible as some of its hype.
No Stone Unturned is exactly as its title describes- a meticulous investigation into a shocking crime whose investigation didn’t even attempt to nudge any stone for decades.
No Stone Unturned (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every shocking new revelation
Take a Drink: whenever the film returns to the bar
Take a Drink: whenever the topic of informants comes up
Do a Shot: whenever the police do something shifty