The true story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett) who in the mid 90s became a crusading journalist determined to expose the drug dealers who were ruining so many lives, amassing fortunes that couldn't be used to incriminate them or be touched. Threatened, beaten but never cowed, Guerin - a wife and mother - paid with her life for her bravery but not in vain: Irish laws were quickly passed on her death, and several drug dealers she was pursuing were arrested, tried and jailed.
Review by Louise Keller:
Based on the true story about a national Irish heroine, Veronica Guerin is an inspiring tale about a respected journalist and a much admired human being. A splendid film in every sense, there's an unbeatable team both behind and in front of the camera. Joel Schumacher is intuitive in his direction of this Jerry Bruckheimer project, and a thoughtful, intelligent script by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue (Beaches, White Oleander) entices us deep into Veronica's world. Here we are given a clear understanding of this outstanding woman who wears courage and determination like an armour, carefully hiding her vulnerability and personal fears.
Harry Gregson-Williams's Celtic-themed score brings a unique style and mood, blending the rhythms of the culture with his effective use of lively tunes and electric violins. Cate Blanchett perfectly cast as Veronica Guerin, gives yet another dazzling performance and one on which she effortlessly puts her individual stamp, without impacting on the authenticity of the character she is representing.
Physically and emotionally, Blanchett is unbeatable; her Veronica is a communicator with a manner that promotes confidences and relationships. She is as comfortable kicking a ball around in her back yard with her young son, as pumping her sleazy criminal contacts for information, or charming the police to turn a blind eye as she looks through their records and files. Whether wearing a tailored suit or comfortable at-home gear, Veronica is smart, sassy and uses her feminine wiles without compromising her toughness. 'I don't want to do it; I have to do it,' she tells her husband, when he tries to dissuade her from the obviously dangerous situation she has placed herself in. She has no qualms about putting herself in the firing line; her car is red and sporty and she keeps a high profile. Her relationship with Ciaran Hinds' informer John Traynor is fascinating; theirs is indeed a push-me, pull-me one, and Hinds' performance is riveting.
But all the cast is excellent, and Schumacher has even roped in Colin Farrell (following their collaboration in Phone Booth) for a cameo role. Thrilling and at times terrifying, Veronica Guerin is a tough story that perfectly balances the personal with the professional. A woman driven to do 'something worthwhile', even at her own peril, this is the story of someone who cares enough to want to makes a difference. And make a difference she did. A totally satisfying cinematic experience, Veronica Guerin is haunting, intelligent filmmaking at its best.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
First of all, let's pause to reflect on the team at the top of the tree in this production: uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, veteran director Joel Schumacher, Australian actress Cate Blanchett. The third name in this company draws a raised eyebrow, mixing in the company of men whose careers do not easily dovetail into hers, in terms of cinematic style. Well, yes, but let's not fall into the trap of stereotyping filmmakers, especially when we criticise them for the same thing. For one thing, here is a story after Bruckheimer's heart: during our interview about Black Hawk Down, he noted (probably not for the first time) how the media is "an inch deep and a mile wide" meaning how shallow it often is, not exploring the depth of an issue, just skimming over it. Well, if he meant it, here is the proof of his sincerity, a story about a journalist who went deeper than an inch.
It's an irresistible filmic tale, a rousing 'justice will be done' story with real people in a Dublin that provides a wonderful setting, with its ordinary, working class ambiance and pathetic youngsters hooked on drugs . . . The film pushes every available button, hooking us like a junkie on its emotional hits, creating a world where the line between the goodies and the baddies is so well defined even a parrot could pick it. The desolate Dublin light, the doom laden score, the crusading journalist and her supportive editor (who seems not to have much choice in what Guerin does) and her scared but loving family . . .
Schumacher hits a few bum notes, allowing lines of trite dialogue through (Editor to Guerin: "I'm trusting you on this one, Veronica…"), and letting her bashing wounds heal miraculously quickly, for example. Yes, the devil is still in the detail, after all these years, Mr Schumacher. There is a far too mushy husband and a manipulative torture scene, some heavy-handed writing - but weighing in against all those questionable decisions is Cate Blanchett's forceful, well measured, passionate and credible performance as Veronica Guerin, displaying the very best decision Bruckheimer and Schumacher made. Casting her. Bruckheimer is to be admired for using his power to bring this film to the world's screens, and Blanchett is to be admired for taking it on and making it work.
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VERONICA GUERIN (PG)
(USA / Ireland / UK)
CAST: Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley, Ciaran Hinds, Barry Barnes, Joe Hanley, David Murray, David Herlihy, Karl Shiels and Brenda Fricker
PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer
DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
SCRIPT: Carol Doyle, Mary Agnes Donoghue (story by Carol Doyle)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brendan Galvin
EDITOR: David Gamble
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nathan Crowley
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 15, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: June 16, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.