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Veronica Guerin

Starring Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley, Ciaran Hinds, and Brenda Fricker
Screenplay by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue
Story by Carol Doyle
Directed by Joel Schumacher

IN SHORT: A script with the usual Oscar values shoots itself in the foot. [Rated R for violence, language and some drug content. 96 minutes]

We begin by noting that we've been sitting through way too many star vehicles that feature tragic endings to (usually) courageous stories, whatever they may be. We cynically call it shopping for Oscar and ratchet up the criticism levels substantially. When it comes to recreations of the (lives) of real people, the less we know about the real person, the better. That way we don't carry any preconceived notions into the screening room. We have never heard of Veronica Guerin, an Irish newspaper journalist who got on the wrong side of the drug lords of Dublin and whose life brought real change to Irish drug laws. That's the good thing.

Here's another thing we know: it takes about five minutes for the ears to adjust to any kind of accent. The thicker the accent, the harder it is. Cate Blanchett's accent is thick enough to need at least four of those five but what sinks Veronica Guerin is the screenplay's inclusion of every bit of Irish slang under the sun in those first five, none of which we know. Director Joel Schumacher has, essentially, erected an audible wall around his character. It is one which, even once we penetrated it, kept us emotionally distanced.

Construction-wise, Schumacher follows the standard convention of beginning with a major event near the end of the story and then flashing back to the beginning. If you know the true ending of Guerin's story, that's not a problem. If you don't, it is.

Briefly, the real Veronica Guerin was a good wife and a loving mother who wrote puff pieces on fashion and culture for the Irish [Independent] newspaper. Somewhere along the line, before this story begins, she had migrated up the ladder to stories about "harder" news. Seeing single digit kidlets playing with discarded syringes; kicking the discarded wrappers and vials out of the way in the areas around the local schoolyards got Guerin's dander up. Going to her usually unsavory source, a connected to the "mob" dude named John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds) sets her on the wrong path, while the real kingpin, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley) hides in plain site, developing a horse breeding and training complex large enough to make jaws drop everywhere. Once Guerin figures out the deception, well, you already know what's coming and that essentially shuts off the emotional connections that a great film should build during its run time.

Considering that Blanchett is not doing a star turn, the rest of the script is good enough that, had we a reason to care about the main character, we might have. We did not.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Veronica Guerin, he would have paid . . .


Veronica Guerin is made well enough that, given the usual lack of good roles for women, Blanchett could see a nomination by default. Not this film, though.

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