"Anyone born and bred in Northern Ireland can't be too optimistic." Seamus Heaney
At times the civil war in Northern Ireland reaching some sort of apex or denouement in the '90's made me aware of how bloody and divisive ours must have been in the 1860's. Alex Gibney's documentary, No Stone Unturned, investigates the mass murder of six Irishmen in a pub as they watched the World Cup in 1994. It's not pretty, and it's still not solved.
Gibney's photography and portraits are first rate, another Errol Morris in the making, as he places us in a small town seemingly remote from the IRA bombings and the intense protectionism of those loyal to Great Britain, occupying Northern Ireland with an iron grip. Some shots are bloody bodies being carried away from a bombing, some are ironic (small kids looking at a crouching soldier from around a corner), but all are made more horrible from the endless battle with no end.
The re-creation of the murder in the pub is gladly elliptical but memorable enough for the director to return to its images several times. The invasion into the pub feels like a home invasion, and maybe it is because the Irish team is about to win the cup.
Cutting away consistently between emotion-laden testimony to the consistently-blocked investigation, Gibney confuses more than clarifies, and even in the final report is unable to cast the murderers other than lucky to have a colluded circumstance that the police will not set straight because they are part of the cover up.
Seeing this expert but flawed doc will bring back the horror of the conflict in Northern Ireland, its inscrutability, and the dedication of the Irish commoners to make peace. I don't know why I demand clarity when chaos rules. That Gibney got right.