Movie Review – The Upcoming

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lyre | Film critic

November 1, 2022


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all in front, Lyre (pronounced Leer-rah) is a documentary chronicling the events leading up to the murder of Northern Irish investigative journalist, Lyra Mckee, 29, during sectarian riots in Derry in 2019. An early title card containing a Excerpt from Lyra’s 2013 diary suggests: “I’m working on a story that forces me to ask questions about dangerous people. Every day I wonder if they will find out and do something about it. Based on this, one would assume that director Alison Millar is about to conduct a close investigation, unraveling a plot emanating from the New IRA movement.

Lyre is, in fact, not as concerned with a cold and detached investigation as first impressions may imply; Millar, a close friend of Lyra who also conducted investigative research, including in conjunction with the 2013 documentary, The missing, approaches the tragedy with a gentle and personal touch, portraying a curious, committed and talented young woman. Much of this impression is created by the people closest to her – notably her sister, Nichola, who we are first introduced to as she sorts through Lyra’s possessions. One item of note is a dictaphone: “With Lyra you never knew when a story might come up, so she always had it with her”, recalls Nichola, “It’s nice to be able to play it and listen to its voice. It makes it seem like she’s still around. Through the rediscovery of Lyra’s journalistic tools, we not only get a glimpse of the forensic curiosity that propelled her work, but the loss that the film is also about. concerned.

The politics, however, are still there, as there is no personal portrait of Lyra Mckee that clicks into coherence without them. Millar allows Lyra to tell her own story through various recordings. She herself traces her politicization to the geography of her hometown, Ardoyne – a town where a fifth of all Troubles-related killings took place. Sectarian violence was so normalized that his street was located right next to a strip known as the “murder mile”. Millar contextualizes Lyra’s accounts of her upbringing with archival footage of militarized streets and armed Republican dissidents, hardened soil for social consciousness. Growing up in such an environment, how not to constantly wonder why? It’s a word that Lyra ironically describes as her very first, and one that lurks behind every investigation she undertakes, whether it’s the disappearance of children during the height of the Troubles, or the rampant suicide rates that have ravaged the communities. since the end of the conflict.

With that in mind, it would have been easy for Millar to craft a film wracked with bitterness and harsh edges. Instead, it emphasizes a happy, vibrant life as a tribute, but also as a reminder that tribal loyalty has real human victims. Images of Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster sitting side by side at Lyra’s funeral hint at yet untapped hope for political stability in Northern Ireland, but that feature appears to be, in part at least, a call to all in these times of seemingly unwavering tribalism for humanity to unite us all. It’s a commendable achievement when the perimeter of the ripple is still so small and the wound still so raw.

Matthew McMillan

Lyre is published digitally on demand on 4e November 2022.

Watch the trailer for Lyre here:

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