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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.46%
Worth A Look: 17.46%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 9.52%

7 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Veronica Guerin
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Mrs. Firecracker"
3 stars

Veronica Guerin was shot dead on 26 June 1996. Her crusade against Dublin’s drug lords is brought vividly to the screen thanks to a firecracker performance from Cate Blanchett in the title role.

Guerin was a journalist on the top-selling Irish tabloid, The Sunday Independent - a rag, “but a popular rag”, as Guerin puts it. She’s hungry to write about more than church scandals and corporate collapses; she dismisses her “human interest” stories as “bollocks”. So she starts investigating the city’s out-of-control heroin problem and linking it to Dublin’s criminal underworld.

No one could ever accuse director Joel Schumacher of subtlety. After opening with Guerin’s assassination, he puts us in the parking lot of a rundown apartment block where children are playing and thuggish-looking crooks arrive to do business. The ground is strewn with discarded needles and, inside, barely teenage kids are shooting up. The villains are all dressed in black leather. When a scared granny peers out from behind faded lace curtains, it’s hard to suppress a giggle.

According to Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue’s entertaining screenplay, Guerin wasn’t one for subtlety or tact either. At best, she was tireless and naive, a larger-than-life reporter-on-the-ground who met personally with her criminal contacts. Guerin never bothered to pick up the telephone when she could race to a meeting in her red sports car instead. To her critics, she was reckless and inflammatory and irresponsible, regarding rumour as fact and writing her stories accordingly.

To the credit of the writers and Blanchett, we see both sides of the woman. Guerin may have become a martyr, but Blanchett isn’t interested in playing a saint. Her Guerin is plucky and self-deprecating, aware of her faults but relentlessly courageous in the face of the danger she courts. She rushes in where angels fear to tread from an admirably strong sense of moral obligation. With faultless Dublin accent, Blanchett tackles this daunting role head on, and the film crackles with her energy and determination.

Veronica Guerin turns out to be a perfect match of director and material. In other hands, it could have been a dreary downer biopic but Schumacher rattles the story along at breakneck pace. He focuses solely on Guerin’s drug exposes of the last two years of her life. Most of the clichéd scenes you’d expect are there - confrontations with anxious family, sniping of jealous colleagues et cetera - but they fly by quickly.

Schumacher resists most of the obvious sentimental traps until the very end, playing down Guerin’s growing popularity amongst the masses. Besides Blanchett, unlikely action producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Schumacher, the rest of the principal cast and crew were Irish. Cinematographer Brendan Galvin shot in and around Dublin for added authenticity.

By no means a great film, Veronica Guerin is elevated by Blanchett’s inspired and charismatic lead turn. It’s also a story worth telling as Guerin’s life and work has had lasting impact. In the wake of her death, the legislature granted new powers to police, especially in relation to the monitoring and seizing of criminal assets.

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originally posted: 12/22/03 12:54:19
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User Comments

6/04/19 Annie Completely UNDERRATED film! Blanchett gives an outstanding performance once again 5 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
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  17-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 16-Mar-2004



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