The true story of Veronica Guerin is told through the eyes of director Joel Schumacher, a man who has resurrected himself from such career turns as Batman and Robin and 8mm. Since then, he has made such highlights as Tigerland and Phone Booth, and Veronica Guerin can be added to his list of low budget successes, even if it isn't superb.
Veronica Guerin tells the story of the Irish reporter who, in the mid-1990's, began investigating drug dealers in Dublin and exposing them for who they really were. Unfortunately, her stories placed her in danger, and in 1996 an assassin working for the drug lords murdered her.
Cate Blanchett stars as the title character and does an impressive job; in fact, Blanchett turns in one of her best performances. While I am unfamiliar with the characteristics of the real Guerin, Blanchett is very believable as a uniquely different character from those in her other films. Blanchett is very good at distinguishing her characters, and her performance as Veronica Guerin is top notch. An Oscar nomination is not entirely out of the question, although the rest of the movie is perhaps not quite good enough to help make her stand out.
Veronica Guerin is a good movie, but not a great one. Though I am unfamiliar with the facts, the movie seems fairly realistic and believable. There are a few emotional scenes that seem to slow down the pace of the film a bit, and the relatively deep look into the drug lords' lives suggest that the screenwriters flavored up the story a little bit. Nonetheless, the movie is rather consistent and semi-suspenseful - meaning that at times it is shade boring.
It probably did not help that I was slightly drugged while watching this movie - I had to struggle the entire time to keep my eyes open - but I snapped to full attention to some of the more exciting scenes. So, while the single allergy pill can be blamed for some of my inattentiveness, some aspects of the film needed more work.
What hurts Veronica Guerin the most is that it never really paints a picture about the accomplishments that this woman achieved. Movies sometimes focus on so much on character, since the critics are so obsessed with character, that they overlook the basic need for explanation and fact. This movie had no real sense of time (it spans two years but could just as easily take place over two weeks), and the work that Ms. Guerin is publishing is given almost no screen time. The movie never makes clear how many stories she is writing, unless you count the narrative explanation at the end of the movie. In other words, by the end of the movie I felt as though I knew the personality of Veronica Guerin, but not the person and her achievements.
The only other thing that hurts Veronica Guerin is its lack of violence. While blood and such are not typically needed to make an effective movie, Schumacher seems to be forcefully hiding any kind of movement that suggests violence. The result is a few sloppy scenes that are not nearly as effective compared to if he showed a little bit more.
When all is said and done, Veronica Guerin is a good movie with great acting. Regardless, in the scheme of things, it is only ordinary, and does not stand out in any way or form compared to other films of a similar nature.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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