Film Reviews

VERONICA GUERIN

By • Oct 8th, 2003 •

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Buena Vista Pictures / Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett), as visualized by director Joel Schumacher and screenwriters Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue, is the Heidi Klum of investigative reporters. She struts her stuff in heels and chic clothes. Her catwalk is the grimy, drug-laden slums of Dublin. She has the finesse of Rosie O’Donnell railing against private gun ownership. Guerin’s relentless pursuit of drug lords makes her famous.

Guerin is a ballsy crusader who intentionally chooses to make headlines writing about Dublin’s underworld for the Sunday Independent, Ireland’s top newspaper. For the first twenty minutes of the movie all we hear about is Guerin’s concern for the children, especially children shooting dope in the streets. Her life is about helping kids she does not know while her own little boy stays at home with his patient and understanding father.

Guerin has only one source in the underworld, John “The Coach” Traynor (Ciaran Hinds). She flirts with him. Like John Gotti, Traynor enjoys the notoriety Guerin bestows on him. That is, as long as his boss, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley), stays out of Guerin’s articles. The more famous Guerin becomes, the more bold and stupid chances she takes. Guerin stampedes through Dublin making enemies, not confidential informants.

A stray bullet flies through her beautiful house one evening. It could have killed her little boy. She is then attacked in her home and shot in the leg. It’s a warning she casually flips off. She goes to Gilligan’s house and confronts him. She tells Gilligan she knows he is a dope dealer and she is going to expose him by name. Guerin insults him. He beats her up. He tells Guerin he will kidnap her son and rape him. Gilligan tells Guerin he will kill her.

Would you dismiss threats like these from a powerful, rich drug lord?

Guerin presses charges against Gilligan. She will not give up. The children of the streets, abandoned by their parents, need her. Guerin puts her son, husband, brother, and mother at grave risk. Her brother weakly complains he’s the only Guerin in the phone book. Guerin laughs it all off. Gilligan makes good on his threat. He has assassins shoot her as she tools around Dublin in her bright red car.

How are we to sympathize with a woman who not only ignores, but shamelessly pursues, real danger? These drug lords were vicious. How glamorous was Guerin’s life as a famous journalist that she flagrantly jeopardized her family’s lives? Apparently, no one could convince Guerin her life was in danger. Her devil-may-care attitude was troubling. Sadly, Guerin comes across as selfish and self-centered, not heroic.

This film is tough to criticize especially with the tribute at the end. Guerin’s death galvanized the drug world in Ireland. People marched in the streets. Ireland is now free of drugs because of Guerin.

Joel Schumacher’s direction is sloppy and unfocused. Schumacher has Guerin traipsing around Dublin’s tough slums in high heels and well-cut suits while showing us that the drug lords are sadistic, lowlife criminals. Guerin just does not fit in. Someone must have noticed Blanchett’s light-hearted, swaggering performance and appended an ending clarifying just how much good Guerin did by sacrificing her life ridding Ireland of drugs.


Credits:
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenwriters: Carol Doyle, Mary Agnes Donoghue
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Executive producers: Ned Dowd, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson
Director of photography: Brendan Galvin
Production designer: Nathan Crowley
Costume designer: Joan Bergin
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Editor: David Gamble

Cast:
Veronica Guerin: Cate Blanchett
Bernie Guerin: Brenda Fricker
John “The Coach” Traynor: Ciaran Hinds
Terry Fagan: Darragh Kelly
Timmy: Laurence Kinlan
John Gilligan: Gerard McSorley
Spanky McSpank: Colin Farrell

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