Ireland 1999. A seventeen year old girl named Raonaid Murray (Rainy) was brutally stabbed to death on her way home one evening. It was a case that shocked Ireland and Raonaid’s killer was never identified. Today, nearly twenty years later, the unsolved investigation still resonates and Filmmaker Graham Jones (How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate, Nola and the Clones) has crafted a documentary that looks at the facts of this incomprehensible crime.
The surge in popularity of true crime documentary is unmistakable in the current landscape. The most well known (Serial, Making a Murderer, The Staircase) have garnered huge attention and endless debate on social media. These three titles in particular all have the same central conceit; was the accused (or convicted) actually guilty of the crime for which they were charged. Clearly, Rainy’s story is very different. There is no accused. There is no named perpetrator. The filmmakers do not know who killed Raonaid, but the truth is, that somebody out there does.
Stepping away from the formulaic narrative of a true crime story that we as viewers have become addicted to, Rainy in Glenageary gives us something entirely different, both in terms of emotion and presentation. Whilst it recounts the story of a brutal and disturbing murder, it is simultaneously beguiling to watch.
It may be because I was around Raonaid’s age in the late 1990’s when she was murdered, but watching her story, I felt an immediate and powerful connection to what I was seeing and hearing. Only the individual viewer will be able to speak for their own connection to the film, but what can be said is that Director Graham Jones introduces us first to Rainy - the girl, not Rainy - the victim. We learn of her life, her likes, her friends, her general sense of character. With that embedded, the facts of the case are then laid down for us to imbibe and with the value of hindsight, reflect upon and see in the context of latter evidence.
Recounting that when she finished work for the day, Rainy had met a friend for a drink and headed home, apparently planning to return to a nightclub later that evening, we learn that she never made it there. She never in fact made it home. Her friends were interviewed and numerous suspects fell in and out of the spotlight but there was still no resolution. Whichever way you look at it, there is no escaping that this is a film about the murder of an ordinary teenage girl. Much like the girl we might once have been, still may be, or will have known or know.
With a style that could be described as akin to a graphic novel, the film carefully paints the scenes leading up to Rainy’s murder and the police investigation that followed. The colour palette and movement of the shots give the film the calm and measured tone it demands. This is respectful filmmaking. It doesn’t pander to sensationalism and is all the stronger because of it.
Rich in content and image, Rainy’s story is narrated by Ali Coffey. This strong and precise female narration also adds emotional weight to the facts, guiding us along the filmmakers journey of discovery as they research and speak to people close to the case.
Offering the viewer a vivid portrait of a young woman and the mystery surrounding her death, hopefully Rainy in Glenageary will lead to some justice in Raonaid's case.
Available to watch in its entirety, for free on Youtube, in his only press statement, Director Jones has stated his reasons for releasing Rainy in Glenageary.
"I count three valid reasons to release this film, " says Jones. "The first is that it reports a credible allegation Dun Laoghaire Gardaí physically assaulted at least one of Raonaid's close friends during a regular police interview in 1999, without the slightest provocation and indeed their attitude toward her 'crew' in general was so accusatory that several teens just completely clammed up."
"The second reason is that some of this crew have recently begun re-thinking the events of late 1999 and it seems they do have further information, but after their previous alleged treatment by Gardaí in relation to such a traumatic event were naturally uncertain how to proceed and consented instead to internal audio recordings of their claims for our film's research."
"Yet the third and perhaps most compelling reason of all is that, following a number of Raonaid's crew bravely opening up about such issues, we have evidence strongly suggesting that others vilified them for speaking out - a large red flag to our filmmaking team”