Veronica Guerin
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
veronica guerin This film suffers from the same problem as Thaddeus O'Sullivan's Ordinary Decent Criminal, which was a substandard version of the same story as John Boorman's brilliant The General, about crime boss Martin Cahill. Well this film is a substandard version of the same story as John MacKenzie's astonishing When the Sky Falls, which was a fictional telling of the life of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin (played impeccably by Joan Allen). In almost every way this is an inferior film, mostly due to Schumacher's overdone theatrics. What it does have is the gripping story ... and another remarkable performance from Blanchett. Interestingly, all four films are set during the same period in Dublin.

In the mid-90s, Guerin (Blanchett) was a tenacious journalist who just wouldn't stop digging into Dublin's drug problem, tracing the problem from the seedy slums to the lowlife dealers and eventually linking it to big crime bosses and challenging Ireland's lax legal system. Along the way she of course made a lot of enemies, but being shot and beat up didn't put her off at all.

This is indeed an amazing story, and after a choppy opening section it kicks into gear with a seriously powerful emotional resonance. As usual, Schumacher has a fine visual sense; this is one of the most polished Irish dramas in recent memory. He also manages to make a film that'll have an added emotional kick for Americans, who probably don't know how Guerin's story ends. It looks fantastic, and the cast is uniformly excellent, from Fricker's sensitive and understated turn as Guerin's mother to McSorley and Hinds as increasingly desperate criminals with distinctly different agendas. Meanwhile, Blanchett holds the film together gorgeously, with a meaty, gritty and deeply engaging performance that lets us see Guerin's inner light, as well as her blind determination to do her job and help her society. Because of this, you can almost forgive Schumacher for badly over-egging the story, drifting into badly manipulative sentiment at the end. But this and the clunky opening third of the film weakens the story severely. When the Sky Falls is still essential version of this story. Find it!

cert 18 themes, language, violence, drugs 9.Jun.03

dir Joel Schumacher
scr Carol Doyle, Mary Agnes Donoghue
with Cate Blanchett, Brenda Fricker, Ciaran Hinds, Gerard McSorley, Barry Barnes, Paudge Behan, Alan Devine, Don Wycherley, Paul Ronan, Garrett Keogh, Mark Lambert, Colin Farrell
release UK 8.Aug.03; US 17.Oct.03
03/Ireland 1h38

Tenacious journalist takes on drug dealers: Farrell and Blanchett.

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send your review to Shadows... veronica guerin "Maybe I'm too close to the story, being a Dubliner myself, to see past the fact that Veronica Guerin is rather more faithful to the truth than the earlier film, and braver too for what it counts - no pseudonyms here! Maybe that should be kept in mind while regarding the film. 4 out of 5." --Ross Nolan, Dublin 15.Jul.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall