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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 MP Bartley

"Cate's The Star...yet again"
3 stars

Thank God for Cate Blanchett. There are very few actors who can pull through an otherwise mediocre film. Sam Rockwell, William H Macy, Julianne Moore... and Queen Cate herself. She's probably the finest actress working at the minute and the one standout reason to see Schumacher's fair-to-middling biopic.

It's actually hard to see how 'Veronica Guerin' (pronounced gurn) will play outside the UK, apart from having the star power of Blanchett. Veronica was an Irish journalist gunned down ten years ago for investigating local drugs barons. Not to belittle the deceased, but it wasn't even a national paper she worked for and the actual effect she achieved is negligible. But regardless of that she was certainly tough, talented and brave and her brutal murder was an outrage. It's a story that should be told as she deserves the attention, no matter how parochial it is.

We are introduced to Veronica as she is taken to a run-down council estate to see the devastating effect drugs are having on the community. Children wander the filth ridden streets playing with hypodermic needles, while junkie teenagers shudder in the squats and towers.

Actually, scratch that. We are introduced to Veronica minutes before her murder, leaving court after escaping a speeding ban, and pulling up at traffic lights where a motorbike rides ominously alongside her. And this is one of the films greatest flaws. We all know Veronica's fate and the well-informed of us may know the actual details. But by showing it as the first scene, Schumacher robs the climax of much of it's emotional impact. Showing the main characters death at the beginning sometimes works, sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't here.

The film then starts proper detailing Veronica's investigation into the local corrupt businessman and drug lord. The public know he's behind the drugs, the police know and the press know. The only thing stopping him from being behind bars is the trail of information that dries up the closer the investigation gets to him.

This doesn't stop Veronica however, despite warnings from many including her mother (Brenda Fricker) that no good will come of the investigation. Soon, bullets are fired at the house, she's assaulted and made the victim of threatening phone calls.

Schumacher makes a decent fist of getting into the reasons why Veronica did what she did, despite the dangers involved. A sense of raging injustice? Certainly. Pig-headed stubborness? Probably. Egotism? Quite possible. It's to Schumacher's credit that she isn't painted whiter than white. While she was certainly a moral crusader standing up for what's right and good, Veronica is also prone to believing her own press, sadly convincing herself that she's untouchable.

But as you'd expect it's Blanchett who beefs the film up considerably. Nailing the Irish accent that so many get so wrong (stand up Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Cruise among others) and bearing an uncanny likeness to the real Veronica, Blanchett is utterly convincing. Again, she refrains from making Veronica a saint showing her conviction and love of her family, but also her vanity and smugness. Blanchett has that elusive quality of making characters seem 'real', even more important when they actually are. This gives the film the emotional punch that it still does carry at the end.

The rest of the cast however fall into anonymity and blandness. Aside from Blanchett, no-one makes a performance of any note meaning the threat of the drug gang is frustatingly intangible. The only stand-out is Colin Farrell who stands out for two reasons:

1) He's Colin Farrell

2) His cameo as a drunken football fan chatting Veronica up, is one of the most pointless and distracting ever.

Schumacher is never going to be a director you'll associate with the words subtlety or restraint, and he proves it here, resorting to the cliche of fiddles and violins for the soundtrack throughout. It's so filled with blarney that you expect goats to be cantering around the streets, and U2 to be standing on a street corner peeling potatoes and supping Guinness. And despite a genuinely affecting end, Schumacher can't help layer the funeral scene with so much sentimentality you'll be expecting the second coming. It's a pretty pointless game, playing 'change-the-director' but you can't help but think it would have been a much more affecting piece if it had been in the hands of, Jim Sheridan, say. Still, let's be thankful for small mercies. Michael Bay has recently announced he wants to move to more 'character-based' pieces. *Shudder*

But I digress. 'Veronica Guerin' is a small story worth telling, that is generally well told with an award worthy performance as its heart. If at times Schumacher is as heavy-handed as a brick through a window then Blanchett redeems it with a memorable performance, in a largely forgettable film. Veronica Guerin may not be the one-woman, crime-fighting task force the end credits may have you believe, but she's courageous and principled in standing up when many others would have shrank down. Give the film a chance for her if nothing else.

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originally posted: 10/15/03 21:56:38
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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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