Review: Lyra

Directed by Alison Millar, following the life of Northern Irish investigative journalist Lyra McKee by telling her story through her own work and words.

It’s always a tragedy when a someone is lost at such a young age, Lyra McKee was looking towards a hugely successful lifelong career with her fervent passion for investigative journalism. Alison Millar gives the audience a look at not just who Lyra was but why she was so committed to her work. To do true justice to her story, she explores the stories that drove Lyra’s passion, a thirst for truth and to highlight the issues close to her. It’s a very clever choice and gives a much more rounded perspective of her life and opinions. Especially in that it still feeds into the extremely personal nature to this documentary, showing how that work impacted other people, as well as its importance to Lyra.

There’s a superb mix of looking at who she was with an outsider perspective and through the eyes of her loved ones. It expands the emotional impact of this story, with the genuine intimacy of hearing from her family and exploring her professional success. One of the first things that you’re hit with, and is well acknowledged throughout, is just how young Lyra looked, 29 is plenty young but her fresh face in the opening hits even harder. It’s a sign of things to come as it only gets more emotional, the footage surrounding the time of Lyra’s murder is difficult viewing and sets an honest and deep tone for the film. Every move that Millar makes just reiterates the tragedy, its horrific irony and the cycle of violence which goes almost ignored by media and governments.

Another step Millar takes is adding between the lines of this story, blending the accounts of Lyra’s life with atmospheric landscape shots. Again, it takes that personal touch and adds a larger perspective, embracing the intimacy but reflecting the depth of Lyra’s story. There’s a lot of ground covered in just 92-minutes and the focus keeps a great balance. It doesn’t get caught up focusing on her death, creating a celebration of her life which also recognises that her death should be a battle cry for resolving conflicts to stop senseless violence against innocent victims.

Lyra is an intimate portrait of Lyra McKee’s life, celebrating her talent, passion and the work she dedicated herself to. It’s an emotional experience which is ready to hit hard but also has a huge warmth. It dives into who she was as a person and her professional life, giving a broad perspective and allowing you to see all the different lives that she touched in her time. It’s hard to do justice to a person’s entire life in an hour and a half but Alison Millar achieves that with this loving, heart-breaking and poignant documentary.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

In UK Cinemas from 4 November

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