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Veronica Guerin

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Review byMatthew Turner28/07/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 120 mins

Well-acted and worthy, but ultimately rather dull movie, let down by a half-hearted script and a sudden climactic dive into sentimentality.

Veronica Guerin isn’t the first film to be made about Veronica Guerin – that honour belongs to John MacKenzie’s little-seen but less sentimental film When The Sky Falls, in which Joan Allen played the role.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this version is the people behind it – it’s produced by bombastic blockbuster supremo Jerry Bruckheimer (Pearl Harbour, Armageddon) and directed by Joel Schumacher, whose track record is decidedly hit and miss (for every Phone Booth, there’s a Batman & Robin, a Bad Company and an 8mm). As such, it’s not quite as awful or as ‘Hollywood’ as it could have been, but it’s also rather dull and overly sentimental, despite a superb performance by Cate Blanchett.

Investigative Journo Targets Drug Barons

Blanchett plays Veronica Guerin, a real-life Dublin journalist and Single mother, who was determined to do something about the drug problem in Dublin. Tracking the problem from the low-level street dealers upwards, she then persistently wrote articles exposing the city’s violent drug lords.

These articles ensured that her life was under constant threat and eventually lead to her murder in 1996. The film opens with her shocking murder and the remainder of the movie is set in the months leading up to her death.

The script takes the usual dramatic liberties associated with films such as In The Name of the Father or Michael Collins and will no doubt attract a certain amount of criticism for doing so, but the essential facts of the story remain: Guerin had her life threatened on a number of occasions prior to her murder – she was also brutally beaten up and shot in the leg at point blank range. These shocking scenes are easily the most effective in the film and Schumacher handles them well, though the rest of the film seems somehow flat in comparison.

Blanchett A Standout

Blanchett is excellent – she completely nails the accent and clearly conveys Guerin’s almost evangelical zeal in the pursuit of her goal. She also subtly hints at the naivety that might perhaps have blinded her to just how much danger she was in.

The supporting cast are extremely good too, particularly Gerard McSorley (splendidly nasty as crime boss John Gilligan), Brenda Fricker as Guerin’s concerned mother and Ciaran Hinds as Guerin’s informant, John Traynor. There’s also a distracting, but amusing cameo from Colin Farrell as a skinhead football fan.

The worst thing about the film is probably the shocking dive into sentimentality at the end, with surging “Oirish” music played over a montage of Veronica’s family being informed of her death. This seems somehow out of place and not in-keeping with the tone of the rest of the film.

In short, this is worthy but dull and only really worth seeing for Blanchett’s performance.

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Content updated: 29/07/2014 14:35
 

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