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Awesome: 16.13%
Worth A Look: 17.74%
Just Average45.16%
Pretty Crappy: 11.29%
Sucks: 9.68%

7 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Veronica Guerin
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by Erik Childress

"Couldn't U2 Have Just Done A Song?"
1 stars

Man the Irish love their martyrs. Deep down that must be the reason the Protestants and the Catholics keep fighting each other over there; both sides trying to convince the other that Jesus Christ died for THEIR sins. I’m part Irish. But not that part. I’m the part that appreciates when a film does justice to its subject matter. Don’t they deserve it, especially when they prematurely died for a cause that would help the world, or at least, their tiny little section of it? When a film opens with its heroine’s death and then delivers a four-page coda before it actually begins, shouldn’t it deliver a little more than what five minutes of provided Cliff’s Notes have already told us?

Veronica Guerin was a journalist who wrote for Ireland’s Sunday Independent. As played by Cate Blanchett, she’s a long-legged looker always well-dressed who stands out amongst the seedy parts that she covers. Director Joel Schumacher doesn’t wait long before thrusting us in hip-deep to ConcernLand as Guerin walks amidst of group of children (ranging from teenagers to six-year-olds) injecting themselves with newly delivered hypodermics. To say that the streets are littered with drug paraphenelia is unnecessary since the image is driven home for us.

The film doesn’t take the traditional approach of utilizing some actual personal reasoning or change-of-heart by Guerin to begin her crusade. She’s already into it, if not a little nonchalant. She hears the stories of a small group called Concerned Parents Against Drugs, or C.P.A.D. which doesn’t quite have the ring of D.A.R.E. or M.A.D.D. But the fear of libel laws award her the opportunity to create fancy little Tarantinoish nicknames for the underworld pushers such as “The Monk” and “The Coach.”

If my attitude towards both the issue and the story is more than a little disconcerting, then it’s the film that hasn’t done its job in making me outraged or concerned for a subject for which I already felt outrage and concern going in. At a mere 98 minutes the film even adapts the running time of a made-for-television biopic, produced on the quick in hope of informing while selling some needed commercial spots. With Jerry Bruckheimer’s name attached, you get where I’m going.

On a professional level the film fails to spark that great Murrow-esque enthusiasm that All the President’s Men, The Insider and even cable film, Live from Baghdad showed for journalism. (Be on the lookout for the upcoming Shattered Glass for a much better example.[) Guerin’s portrayal is one of someone who really didn’t have to dig that far for her story. She already knows the #2 guy in the underworld (or a composite of several #2’s), John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds in a fine performance) and never has problems just meeting him for a chat, even if she’s aware he’s feeding her B.S. The representation of her outlet consists of either a couple colleagues smiling in awe (that we never feel) or her editor reminding her what she’s doing is dangerous and then instantly forgetting about it faster than she does. At one point, Guerin jokingly admits that frequently her “sources are inaccurate” and “she can’t spell.” Great, so she’d be right at home at Ain’t-It-Cool-News.com.

On a personal level, Guerin’s life-threatening activities never make a dent into her family life. Despite a bullet being shot into her home and then a second bullet into her thigh when an assailant breaks-in, her husband is more interested in the lack of attention Veronica has for him. And oh yeah, their son; neither of whom Veronica is predisposed to worry about their own safety. Is she doing this all for her son, so that he doesn’t have to grow up in a world where drugs could destroy him? That is if he’s not raped and murdered by the threatening thugs first? Don’t ask her mother (Brenda Fricker) who pops in-and-out to visualize her apprehension like she’s Lee Trevino in Happy Gilmore.

No one wants to make light of such a tragedy, especially in the name of such a good cause. But I’m not reviewing the life, I’m looking at its representation here. And that’s hard to do when our concentration to connect with her professionally or personally is interrupted by an inexplicable cameo by Colin Farrell as a football-lovin’ cad who feeds Guerin some info. It’s nice for Farrell to do such a favor for his champion Schumacher, but either find an actual role or wait until Joel does a less-serious project where a “Hey, it’s so-and-so” cameo could be rewarding and not distracting.

Veronica Guerin could easily slide into any number of filmable territories, but the film makes the radical approach to just ignore them all completely. As a biopic, the film is flat and unemotional despite its Irish power ballads reminding us or martyrdom. As a true-life suspenser, its dull and unengaging. Schumacher, who is no stranger to solid suspense (see: Falling Down or Phone Booth) spends more time setting up the eventual witnesses of Guerin’s roadside date with destiny than the increasing jeopardy of her journey to get there herself. At one point, after being savagely brutalized and her family threatened by her top suspect, he then sends his right-hand man to offer a bribe and tell her that he was just kidding. As a result the power of her crusade is diminished making her a mere footnote rather than a whole encyclopedia. And what’s to appreciate about that?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8260&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/17/03 01:01:50
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User Comments

9/11/07 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
10/25/05 Katie Evridge Interesting look at the drug problem in Ireland. 3 stars
10/01/05 Caoimhe Amazing.A touching film. 5 stars
5/23/05 susee liked it..well made 5 stars
2/05/05 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
10/16/04 Pollo Not original. I've seen this before. 3 stars
3/20/04 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
3/02/04 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
1/14/04 Betty White Blanchett is solid and understated in this slow-moving biopic. 4 stars
11/21/03 orsie what a tear jerkier. the reviewers don'nt have a clue! 5 stars
11/12/03 Rebecca K Excellent!!!!! 5 stars
11/06/03 Cameron Slick An emotional and startling film that with a great performance by Blanchett. 4 stars
10/28/03 Heather It's pretty good although I would have preferred an Irish Director to have done it 4 stars
10/25/03 rory will remeber this 1 for a long time 5 stars
10/17/03 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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