on June 23, 2004
It's Rated-R for strong violence and language, but I strongly recommend that high school and college journalism teachers show this film to their students. As a high school journalism teacher, I saw the opportunity to show students a true story about a journalist. That truth-seeking journalists can make a difference. However, I had no idea that after five times watching the movie, I would cry during the whole 15 minute ending each and every time. Through her journalistic techniques and "finding the truth," she did ultimately pay the price for those antics. But the reason why I was so moved with this movie, was the fact that "she" and her "actions" moved the Irish government to change things. So many people rallied to her and for "her" after her death because she fought the people no one else would fight. She sought the truth exposing those who needed to be in the spotlight for their wrongdoings. Two of the most powerful images in this movie, 1) the children playing with the used drug syringes left on the streets and 2) the funeral procession - you would have thought a diplomat had been laid to rest that day, but instead an honest-seeking journalist who was trying to do her job. My newspaper students sat hypnotized by the television for three days while watching this film. They were moved just as I at the end. It brought a lot of discussion afterwards, too.
on June 12, 2004
If I give four stars to this film, that's simply because of Cate Blanchett. The story of Veronica Gurerin, who was killed during the determined jounalistic jobs about drug business, has been already covered in a thinly disguised version "When the Sky Falls" (with Joan Allen), but to be frank with you, this "Veronica Guerin" could be much better with another director and producer. Why Joel Shumacher and Jerry Bruckheimer?
The story is smoothly told, with a good opening sequence, but you can't expect a "bio-pic" in "Veronica Guerrin," in which you are shown not many things that would tell us about the inner life of her. Veronica, writer for the Sunday Independent, begins her crusade against the drug lord in Dublin, who is responsible for the appalling conditions of the life of the kids there. As she goes on, she is threatened by unseen forces, possibly the henchmen of the underworld, but she stubbornly keeps on her course until she meets the inevitable result.
Cate Blanchett's superb acting (Golden Globe nominated) almost hides it, but what the film's screenplay offers is treated with Shumacher's by-the-number direction. I really hate the moment, for instance, in which the camera lingers on the bloody crime scene, as if to put emphasis on the tragic nature of the story, in the worst Hollywood fashion. We can easily feel, from Cate's perfect acting (with perfect Irish accent), the magnitude of what she did, and what happened to her. So, why not leave it to her?
The villainous acting of Ciaran Hinds ("Persuation") is also great, but his character also suffers from too familiar elements seen in many crime films. These two leading actors are so compelling that you forget and forgive the fact the film fails to explain the inaptitude of the laws and the police (which "When the Sky Falls" showed), the very thing the death of the jounalist ironically revealed to the public.
With beautifuly shot locations, "Veronica Guerin" is another showcase for Cate Blanchett's incredible acting talent. (And you get an amusing cameo from the star of "Phone Booth") But after watching it (and that ride was pretty fast), I still couldn't understand why she risked her life, and possibly her family, in order to uncover the story. I still couldn't see why some of other journalists, as this film shows us, while drinking in the bar, tell us that they don't like Veronica or her jobs. Most importantly, why did she act alone when she knows it's very dangerous? There MUST be another story, perhaps a better one, hiding in the answers to these questions. Unfortunately (for me, I say) the director didn't think about that possibilty, even though I know the film is not obliged to do it.
There are few actresses in the world that can take on just about any role they choose. Cate Blanchett is one of them. "Veronica Guerin" is a true tale of a no-nonsense Irish reporter that will go to any length to bring the truth out. In this case, it is exposing drug dealers in mid-nineties Ireland. Veronica is abrupt and sometimes abrasive, but always the professional. Only the criminals around her can emphasize how courageous her commitment is to tell the truth by their vicious threats. Blanchett always brings a vitality and truth to every role she plays, and to be honest, this film would have failed without her work. It is an ordinary story, all too well known in the world, but Veronica Guerin is unafraid and nearly unstoppable. That is what makes her an unusual person in a world full of murderers and drug traffickers.
Joan Allen played the role of Veronica Guerin in 2000's "When The Sky Falls". It's also a great film with fine acting, but not as well crafted as Schumacher's Hollywood version. The director and writers commentaries are typical, but the rare footage of the real Veronica Guerin addressing the 'Committee to Protect Journalists' is priceless.
on May 22, 2004
CATE BLANCHETT is a marvelous actress, one whose dexterity in playing any kind of role (e.g. THE GIFT), will one day elevate her to the Meryl Streep class of actress.
Cate's overwhelming portrayal of journalist Veronica Guerin is nothing but brilliant, and she was sadly overlooked by Oscar, who usually eats up this kind of performance. Even though she won no award, Blanchett infuses Veronica Guerin with a smoldering passion, a strong sense of commitment and perseverance, and a loving mother and wife, whose actions endanger all of them, but she sticks to it. Cate has so many moments of excellence, one can't really elucidate on them without going on and on; suffice to say, Cate is magnificent.
Director Joel Schumacher leaves his action film techniques behind and crafts an envigorating yet sad film. Blanchett is supported by a tremendous cast: Gerard McSorney as John Gilligan is one of the most vile characters on celluloid and McSorney's performance is frightening and powerful. The scene where he attacks Veronica and beats her to a pulp is one of the most disturbing scenes I've witnessed in a long time. Ciaran Hinds (SUM OF ALL FEARS) is brilliant as Veronica's informant and eventual executioner. One can see how he is torn and yet remains selfish enough to save his own hide. Don Wycherley as police inspector Chris Mulligan hits the right note of being a good policeman and friend to the controversial Guerin; Brenda Fricker in a small role as Veronica's mother is good in a controlled, yet highly emotive performance; Barry Barnes as Veronica's husband is strong, supportive, yet frustrated at the possibility of losing his wife; Paudge Behan as the self proclaimed stud Barry is chilling in a small, yet effective performance; and of course, in a cameo role, Schumacher favorite Colin Farrell plays a tattooed young man whose one brief scene establishes the humanity of Guerin.
VERONICA GUERIN doesn't really give us the whole story, but Cate Blanchett gives us her entire being in a riveting, gut-wrenching performance.
on May 10, 2004
This is not what would commonly be called a high impact, expensive Hollywood movie, partially perhaps because it only runs about 90 minutes. However if it inspires some young person to become an investigative journalist, then perhaps the endeavor was worthwhile. After viewing the film,however, I don't know why anyone would want such a career since it ends in the untimely death of the heroine. As the credits state near the end, "187 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since Veronica Guerin's death." Further, her work did have some impact, since the crime rate related to drugs went down in the aftermath of her articles, according to the film. Furthermore it brings another culture, Irish culture, to our attention, although it focuses on some of the less pleasant aspects. The film documents Guerin's attempts to bring Ireland's drug baron underworld to the attention of the public. A film it might be compared to is "Harrison's Flowers", a much more typically big budget Hollywood film about the war in Yugoslavia, which also focuses on an investigative journalist. But beware: "Flowers" is a war film and you have to have a strong tolerance for the brutalities of war to stomach this one. If you liked "The Pianist" you'd probably be able to tolerate it.
on May 3, 2004
Veronica Guerin, an Irish journalist and a woman of courage, was murdered in June 1996, at the age of 36, while conducting an investigative expose of drug lords in Dublin. Apparently Ms. Guerin's interrogatory tactics, investigative techniques and determination threatened her subjects more than the local police. She was shot dead at the wheel of her car by a hired killer on a motorcycle as a result of her persistence in discovering and writing the truth.
Director Joel Schumacher's somber and factual bio-film portrays a woman who was determined to rid Dublin's streets of the pervasive drug dealing and heroin consumption so lethal to the city's youth. Ms. Guerin was repeatedly warned by her colleagues, underworld contacts and drug kingpins to back-off. She was shot in the leg and beaten in the line of duty. Her husband and young son were threatened and yet she persisted. Whether she was too reckless, too obsessed, is for the viewer to determine. However, her murder galvanized the Irish people to take to the streets and march against the criminal drug trade. Within a week of Ms. Guerin's death, during an emergency session of Parliament, the government passed a law to freeze the assets of suspected drug barons. The Irish Constitution was amended so that authorities could pursue drug-traffickers more aggressively. A Criminal Assets Bureau was created, as a result of her writing, (and her death), which has been aggressively confiscating money and property suspected of coming from criminal activities. Ireland's first witness protection program was formed to encourage informers to come forward. Her murderer was brought to trial, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cate Blanchett's gritty performance as Veronica Guerin is outstanding and she is the backbone of the film. Ciarán Hinds, who plays informant John Traynor, does a superb job as he walks the line between the sympathetic informer with a tremendous ego, who is both Veronica's dubious ally and the vicious criminal who finally gives her up. Gerard McSorley excels as drug tzar John Gilligan. His presence is so terrifying and menacing that it's difficult to believe that Guerin did not back down immediately after listening to his graphic threats. I would have left the country after meeting him. Her relationships with other journalists, (those both friendly and critical of her work), the police, drug-dealers and their cohorts, prostitutes, and drug-addicts on the streets of Dublin provide some excellent entertainment and more insight into her feisty character.
This film gives the viewer an exciting and thoughtful glimpse into politics and investigative journalism - just as "All The President's Men" did in the 1970s. Veronica Guerin is one of many reporters who gave their lives, and continue to do so, in pursuit of exposing injustices and crime in our society. This film commemorates the life and career of one woman but does serve to remind us of the many others who walk her path. A most powerful and highly recommended film.
on May 2, 2004
This movie, based on the true life of Irish journalist for the Sunday Independent Veronica Guerin, is uplifting and sad in unison. I found myself amazed at the courage shown by this woman in facing the organized crime in Ireland, fighting to make the world a better place by exposing these people. On the other side, it is sad to know that her quest had nefarious results for her and her family. This is one of the best movies I have seen this year, and knowing that these events really happened lifts it to another level for me.
The movie starts with the shooting of Veronica after she gets out from court where she was facing charges on twelve hundred parking violations and a couple of speeding tickets for going over one hundred miles per hour. Then, the action goes back and starts revealing how the journalist got to that point. Veronica Guerin was a journalist that felt empty when writing casual and non-critical articles, so when she is assigned to the crime section, she finds a cause she can embrace. In Ireland, the drug trade has driven crimes rates to a record high, and a myriad of youngsters are living in the streets, having only one desire...to get high. Veronica's quest consists in connecting the drugs to the crime lords and bring the organization down. To do this she starts relentlessly pursuing these dangerous people and gets her family and herself into dangerous situations. "The Monk", "The Coach" and "The General", among others, are getting nervous.
While watching this movie you will find yourself cheering for the heroine, and getting worried and scared for what may happen to her and her family. Cate Blanchett has a stellar performance, which makes the character even more likable. This actress focuses a good part of her time on plays, but I would really love if she decided to devote a larger part of her time to movies, which is what I usually have access to.
on April 25, 2004
A bit like an Irish version of "Silkwood," "Veronica Guerin" is the true-life tale of a woman who was shot down in cold blood for daring to do the right thing. No martyr by intent, Guerin was a Dublin newspaper journalist who, sickened by what she saw happening to the youth of her country at the hands of drug dealers and petty gangsters, wrote damning exposes of this criminal underworld in her columns, at great personal risk to her family and herself. For that, Guerin ended up paying the ultimate price, but the city in which she lived and worked became a better place for her sacrifice.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Joel Schumacher have wisely opted to tamp down their normally hurdy-gurdy filmmaking style, taking instead a straightforward, streamlined, almost too conventional an approach to the story. This seems appropriate since the material itself is so compelling that any attempt to gussy it up with hyped-up editing techniques and high tech flash would be both dishonest to the facts and disrespectful to the woman at its core. Cate Blanchett does a superb job inhabiting this character, displaying all the moral tenacity and hardheaded feistiness necessary to make us understand why Guerin does what he does. The risk with a character like Guerin is that she will come across as too saintly on screen, but Blanchett and the filmmakers are careful to keep her life-sized and down-to-earth at all times. In addition to her courage, idealism and inextinguishable determination to do what's moral and right, we also get to see her less admirable traits such as her abrasiveness and recklessness, as well as her most humanizing trait of all: her fear. This allows the character to be both heroic and real at the same time.
There are excellent supporting performances from Gerald McSorley, Carian Hinds and Brenda Flicker, as well as a rather pointless cameo appearance by Colin Farrell, whose name does not even appear in the final credits. This sudden, unexpected appearance of a major star amidst this generally unfamiliar cast of first-rate character actors succeeds only in undercutting the verisimilitude of the piece.
on April 21, 2004
Joel Schumacher's film "Veronica Guerin" is breathtaking. Its total immersion into the Irish culture and the cinematography make Ireland jump to life. The universal thematic aspects of the film make it a timeless classic: a woman who fights for truth against the odds, the scourges of drugs, the lack of caring for the poor, and the feminist aspect of a female journalist in a man's world. There is so much meat in this film that if it were a meal, it'd be a thick juicy steak.
Schumacher's pacing for the film works well. The film told in flashback allows the audience to prepare for the inevitable ending without the despair of tragedy, but with hope engendered by courage and bravery. Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Veronica is studied, heartfelt, and on the money. Showing the woman with flaws and all emphasizes the reality of the piece. The DVD sequence of the deleted scene of Blanchett as Veronica receiving an award and then the replay of the real-life Veronica Guerin receiving the same award demonstrates how fine a portrayal Blanchett has accomplished.
The Irish supporting cast offer fine performances by Brenda Fricker as the mother, Gerry O'Brien as Martin Cahill, Alan Devine as "the monk," Ciaran Hinds (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover & Lara Croft Tomb Raider) as John Traynor and Gerald McSorley's chilling John Gilligan. Colin Farrell who Schumacher directed in "Tigerland" & "Phone Booth" has an excellent cameo that is essential to the plot.
The biographical nature of the film married to its great theatricality makes this essential viewing for those who like their cinema well done. This is one profile in courage that happened after but could have fit into John Kennedy's book. Bravo!
on April 10, 2004
If I did not know better before going to see Veronica Guerin, I would have been excused to guess that it was directed by a politically and socially sensitive European director like Ken Loach or Jim Sheridan.
I was quite surprised therefore to know that Joel Schumacher and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were behind such a masterpiece of realism and grittiness,a powerful tribute to that rare breed of humans who will do right by their conscience and are never intimidated even if that means paying the ultimate price. Veronica Guerin,the Irish celebrated investigative journalist was such a person.
The growing unchecked drugs situation that has plagued Ireland, and the tragic scenes she witnessed of young lives lost and the blatant exploitation by gangs, drove her relentlessly to expose the men behind it all.
She meddled as a result with a very sinister and dark world the public at large was seldom aware of, and she paid a very hefty price for her unwanted intrusion.
Yet her death which shocked the nation was certainly not in vain, for it pushed the government and the public to act swiftly for the first time against the drug dealers.It is only a pity that throughout history generally brave people had to sacrifice their lives for any change to occur.
This is the story of the real Veronica Guerin and the film that faithfully tells her story.
The success of the film does not solely rely on how touching, tragic and real the story of Veronica Guerin is and her lasting impact, but also on Schumacher's fine direction,by far his best film since Falling Down: totally sympathetic with his subject yet managing to his credit to avoid the trap of sentimentality such a film would easily fall into.
Credit should also go to producer Bruckheimer,who is a rare breed of his kind ,equally concerned with the artistic quality of his picture as well as numbers and balance sheets.
Veronica Guerin's success also is due to superb acting, especially Gerard McSorley and the wonderful Ciaran Hinds who has such a imposing and charismatic presence on screen..and of course there is Cate Blanchett.
No one could have played the Irish fallen heroine better than her. Her performance is simply awesome, well researched and faithful.I don't know what it is with Aussie actresses and accents..why it is that they always perfect whatever accent they are talking with..From Nicole Kidman, Toni Colette, Naomi Watts, Judy Davis, and Ms Blanchett, who in Veronica Guerin speaks in a flawless Irish tongue.
There are some very powerful scenes in the film that will totally captivate you, especially the confrontation between Blanchett and the mob boss McSorley..it is sudden,shocking,and brutal, one you will not easily forget!
The DVD extras are interesting as there is footage of the real Ms Guerin speaking about the problem of drugs, the threat she received and her pledge never to stop her personal crusade which is as touching to see as the film itself.
Veronica Guerin is a must see film, one that you engage you and stay with you long after you watch it.It is a must buy, a very small and symbolic personal tribute from the viewer to one of those who dared to speak out.