Veronica Guerin

A quick note to Cate Blanchett: when deciding on what biographical films to make, one name good (Elizabeth), two names bad (Charlotte Gray). Veronica Guerin has two names, an overly melodramatic film that, despite a tremendous performance from Blanchett (one needs to remember that she is not Irish, she is Australian). It lacks focus and meanders along, never quite engaging the viewer but never becomes uninteresting. Guerin (Blanchett, The Two Towers, Heaven) is a reporter who is beginning to write about Dublin's growing drug problems. It's the mid-1990s, and authorities claim the drug problem is small, but Guerin believes otherwise.

She is a brash, tenacious reporter, willing to do what it takes to get the story. She has a network of contacts that run the spectrum, from the police to criminal John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Road to Perdition). Traynor provides Guerin with all sorts of useful information that garners her story after story about the burgeoning drug trade in Dublin, but has no information on John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley, Bloody Sunday, Ordinary Decent Criminal). Gilligan is a shadowy figure whose influence appears to be large, and Guerin is determined to figure out who he is and what he does.

Gilligan is a scary man. As Guerin gets closer to figuring everything out, things become more dangerous for her. Traynor and Gilligan begin using her as a pawn in their little turf games against other gangs. This leads to trouble on multiple fronts, and her husband (Barry Barnes, Reign of Fire, Ordinary Decent Criminal) wants her to stop for the safety of her family. The one thing that director Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, Bad Company) is able to get into the minds of viewers is Guerin's passion. She loves what she does, and feels that what she is doing is important. Threats and intimidation, no matter how dangerous or realistic will not deter her from finding her story. Blanchett's performance is plucky and headstrong; it is easy to see why the police cringe when Guerin begins asking questions.

Unfortunately, what does not come through is how Guerin's talents mesh with this story. Carol Doyle (Washington Square) and Mary Agnes Donoghue's (White Oleander, Deceived) screenplay does not do justice to Guerin. Luck plays a part in getting some stories for reporters, but it seems to play a huge part here. This diminishes Guerin's talents, and makes her seem kind of dumb. That, and Schumacher at times assumes a preachy tone about freedom of the press and the evil of drugs, and no matter how much everybody can agree with him, it begins to grate on the nerves. It's a testament to Blanchett that her talent as an actress can still make Veronica Guerin more watchable than it actually is.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Rated R for violence, language, and some drug content.

Back to Movies