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Overall Rating
3.19

Awesome: 16.13%
Worth A Look: 17.74%
Average45.16%
Pretty Bad: 11.29%
Total Crap: 9.68%

7 reviews, 20 user ratings


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Veronica Guerin
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Blanchett nearly saves it, but it's too much a plastic-Jesus biopic."
3 stars

The goal of 'Veronica Guerin' is transparent: not to point out the drug problems in Dublin -- which are distant to all but those who live there -- but to make a tragic Irish version of 'Erin Brockovich,' with a matching Oscar for Cate Blanchett.

Guerin, a sort of folk hero in Ireland (or a martyr -- same difference), reported on crime for the popular Dublin paper the Sunday Independent and, according to the legend, got a little too close to the drug lords for comfort; she was shot to death in 1996, at age 38, while sitting in her car at a traffic light. The movie begins with the murder, then backtracks two years to re-enact Guerin's reportorial crusade against drug dealers.

The way the movie, energetically if impersonally directed by Joel Schumacher, tells it, Veronica was moved to action by the sight of little children playing with the syringes left in the street by heroin addicts. As some critics have noted, though, the focus of the real Guerin's journalistic wrath was not heroin dealers, but marijuana dealers. That might explain why the movie's Veronica is barely shown talking to (let alone writing about) drug addicts, except to grill them on where they get the stuff. Her emphasis is entirely on the Bad Guys pushing drugs to children. Fair enough, but it doesn't make for a terribly provocative movie. Why did Veronica tilt at the drug-traffic windmill to the extent of endangering herself and her husband and young son? According to the film, because she Just Wasn't Going to Back Down.

Working with a worshipful (and Guerin-family-approved) script by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue, Schumacher can't even get his usual tacky excitement going. The movie is simply a series of escalating threats on Veronica's life, until finally she's done in -- on orders from the drug kingpin (Gerard McSorley in a cartoon-vicious performance) she's been tailing, the film strongly implies. (Some have theorized that Guerin's murder wasn't as simple as that, and speak of cover-ups and shady characters under the protection of the Garda, Ireland's police force.) In a few scenes, mostly dealing with Ciarán Hinds as a sad-sack crime underling who serves as Veronica's secret source, we get a sense of the uniquely Irish flavor of the underworld. But then it's back to another not especially involving domestic scene with Veronica goofing around with her kid or scoffing at the concerns of various family members. After a while, every scene becomes a testament to Veronica's courage, Veronica's strength, Veronica's indomitable spirit.

It should be said that Cate Blanchett does a lot to clip the angel wings off herself. She makes muckraking look sexy -- to her, unmasking the criminal element is wicked, dirty fun, and she enjoys their discomfort when she strides among them with an air of serene implacability. Blanchett seems to be acting in a better, more complex movie, wherein Veronica rubs elbows with underworld swine because she likes it. Lest we miss the point that Veronica is just like the rest of us, the script points up her addiction to football (or soccer, as we call it) -- she decompresses by kicking a ball around in the backyard -- though this doesn't do much for the movie except provide an excuse for a two-time Schumacher star to pop in for an uncredited cameo as a rough, tattooed football fan with whom Veronica chats on the street. He comes on to her cheerfully, as if he'd been watching the movie; certainly no one else notices the sensual vibe of bravado Blanchett sends off.

Schumacher really tries our patience at the end, though; Veronica gets her wings after all, and Blanchett, dead in the front seat of a car, can't do anything about it. Word of her murder spreads, which seems to devastate everyone in Ireland. Sinead O'Connor sings mournfully on the soundtrack as the streets are clogged with mourners. A narrator reassures us that there was a massive crackdown on drug crime directly after Guerin's death, and that the crime rate went down 15 percent.

Actually, things didn't stay that way for long; according to a story in Guerin's paper the Sunday Independent the summer Veronica Guerin was released, "Three killings within the two days surrounding the premiere of the Veronica Guerin movie and a total of almost 50 unsolved gangland murders in Dublin since her death in 1996, together with an unprecedented rise in drug-trafficking and armed criminal activity nationwide, demonstrate that the anti-crime packages that were to have been her legacy have not worked. The prediction of senior gardai is that gangland violence, at its highest levels due mainly to the large amount of modern weapons coming into the country with drug consignments, will continue to worsen in the immediate future."

Of course, we hear nothing of this from the movie, which sends us out ready to canonize Veronica -- though the film itself has already, falsely, done it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8260&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/11/07 07:44:49
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User Comments

6/09/13 PAUL SHORTT SIMPLEMINDED TREATMENT OF A TRUE STORY DESPITE A GREAT STAR PERFORMANCE 2 stars
9/12/07 William Goss A fine Cate Blanchett performance can't topple Schumacher's heavy-handed direction. 3 stars
10/02/06 tessa outstanding film !!!!! 5 stars
10/26/05 Katie Evridge Interesting look at the drug problem in Ireland. 3 stars
10/02/05 Caoimhe Amazing.A touching film. 5 stars
5/23/05 susee liked it..well made 5 stars
2/06/05 John T. moving and emotional, i even cried. 5 stars
1/07/05 Landshark Silly in a Harrison's Flowers kind of way 3 stars
10/17/04 Pollo Not original. I've seen this before. 3 stars
3/21/04 Mitch Definitely worth the price of a rental, if only to see Cate & hear Sinead O'Connor! 4 stars
3/04/04 Natalie Stonecipher MOSTLY lucid movie, with worst version ever of "The Fields Of Athenry". 4 stars
3/03/04 LIAM JACKSON just goes to show that when you nose in, you get more than you bargain for. 5 stars
1/16/04 Helen Bradley Blanchett's acting make tjhis a great movie 5 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Blanchett is solid and understated in this slow-moving biopic. 4 stars
11/22/03 orsie what a tear jerkier. the reviewers don'nt have a clue! 5 stars
11/13/03 Rebecca K Excellent!!!!! 5 stars
11/07/03 Cameron Slick An emotional and startling film that with a great performance by Blanchett. 4 stars
10/29/03 Heather It's pretty good although I would have preferred an Irish Director to have done it 4 stars
10/26/03 rory will remeber this 1 for a long time 5 stars
10/18/03 gino wow don't know why i saw it but i'm glad i did. made me cry 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 16-Mar-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Jan-2004




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