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Veronica Guerin
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Just when the media excessively highlights the wrongdoings of unscrupulous journalists (i.e. Jayson Blair at The New York Times) it is redeeming to know that the entire profession isn't completely stripped of its integrity and morals. In the case of Veronica Guerin the public can have some of their faith restored that there are journalists out there who care to uncover the truth for the benefit of the public's well being. I remember hearing about the execution-style killing of Veronica Guerin on the evening news and my heart ached for this senseless killing. Now with the aid of this film individuals can learn the story behind the life and career of Veronica that ultimately led to her premature death.
After witnessing the horrific effects of heroin use on teenagers and children in a rundown housing complex veteran reporter Veronica Guerin decides to refocus her attention on the prevalence of crime in Dublin. Outraged that nobody is covering the drug trade she jumps headfirst into this underground economy and doesn't hesitate to immediately make some powerful enemies. Cruising around in her bright red car through the Dublin streets Veronica fails to back down even after her life is repeatedly threatened and she is brutally attacked. Even the pleading of her family and her work colleagues fail to change her mind.
It is encouraging to know that the efforts of Veronica Guerin were not in vain. Her journalistic accounts of Dublin's drug trade and her subsequent unsympathetic murder has resulted in the passing of several laws such as stripping the assets of suspected drug dealers. However, after watching this film I can't help to wonder about the nameless other journalists who have been similarly slain while in the line of duty. Without these brave souls it is discomforting to think of the stories that would not be covered.
Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2004
It's Rated-R for strong violence and language, but I strongly recommend that high school and college journalism teachers show this film to their students. As a high school journalism teacher, I saw the opportunity to show students a true story about a journalist. That truth-seeking journalists can make a difference. However, I had no idea that after five times watching the movie, I would cry during the whole 15 minute ending each and every time. Through her journalistic techniques and "finding the truth," she did ultimately pay the price for those antics. But the reason why I was so moved with this movie, was the fact that "she" and her "actions" moved the Irish government to change things. So many people rallied to her and for "her" after her death because she fought the people no one else would fight. She sought the truth exposing those who needed to be in the spotlight for their wrongdoings. Two of the most powerful images in this movie, 1) the children playing with the used drug syringes left on the streets and 2) the funeral procession - you would have thought a diplomat had been laid to rest that day, but instead an honest-seeking journalist who was trying to do her job. My newspaper students sat hypnotized by the television for three days while watching this film. They were moved just as I at the end. It brought a lot of discussion afterwards, too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
CATE BLANCHETT is a marvelous actress, one whose dexterity in playing any kind of role (e.g. THE GIFT), will one day elevate her to the Meryl Streep class of actress.
Cate's overwhelming portrayal of journalist Veronica Guerin is nothing but brilliant, and she was sadly overlooked by Oscar, who usually eats up this kind of performance. Even though she won no award, Blanchett infuses Veronica Guerin with a smoldering passion, a strong sense of commitment and perseverance, and a loving mother and wife, whose actions endanger all of them, but she sticks to it. Cate has so many moments of excellence, one can't really elucidate on them without going on and on; suffice to say, Cate is magnificent.
Director Joel Schumacher leaves his action film techniques behind and crafts an envigorating yet sad film. Blanchett is supported by a tremendous cast: Gerard McSorney as John Gilligan is one of the most vile characters on celluloid and McSorney's performance is frightening and powerful. The scene where he attacks Veronica and beats her to a pulp is one of the most disturbing scenes I've witnessed in a long time. Ciaran Hinds (SUM OF ALL FEARS) is brilliant as Veronica's informant and eventual executioner. One can see how he is torn and yet remains selfish enough to save his own hide. Don Wycherley as police inspector Chris Mulligan hits the right note of being a good policeman and friend to the controversial Guerin; Brenda Fricker in a small role as Veronica's mother is good in a controlled, yet highly emotive performance; Barry Barnes as Veronica's husband is strong, supportive, yet frustrated at the possibility of losing his wife; Paudge Behan as the self proclaimed stud Barry is chilling in a small, yet effective performance; and of course, in a cameo role, Schumacher favorite Colin Farrell plays a tattooed young man whose one brief scene establishes the humanity of Guerin.
VERONICA GUERIN doesn't really give us the whole story, but Cate Blanchett gives us her entire being in a riveting, gut-wrenching performance.
Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Veronica Guerin, an Irish journalist and a woman of courage, was murdered in June 1996, at the age of 36, while conducting an investigative expose of drug lords in Dublin. Apparently Ms. Guerin's interrogatory tactics, investigative techniques and determination threatened her subjects more than the local police. She was shot dead at the wheel of her car by a hired killer on a motorcycle as a result of her persistence in discovering and writing the truth.

Director Joel Schumacher's somber and factual bio-film portrays a woman who was determined to rid Dublin's streets of the pervasive drug dealing and heroin consumption so lethal to the city's youth. Ms. Guerin was repeatedly warned by her colleagues, underworld contacts and drug kingpins to back-off. She was shot in the leg and beaten in the line of duty. Her husband and young son were threatened and yet she persisted. Whether she was too reckless, too obsessed, is for the viewer to determine. However, her murder galvanized the Irish people to take to the streets and march against the criminal drug trade. Within a week of Ms. Guerin's death, during an emergency session of Parliament, the government passed a law to freeze the assets of suspected drug barons. The Irish Constitution was amended so that authorities could pursue drug-traffickers more aggressively. A Criminal Assets Bureau was created, as a result of her writing, (and her death), which has been aggressively confiscating money and property suspected of coming from criminal activities. Ireland's first witness protection program was formed to encourage informers to come forward. Her murderer was brought to trial, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Cate Blanchett's gritty performance as Veronica Guerin is outstanding and she is the backbone of the film. Ciarán Hinds, who plays informant John Traynor, does a superb job as he walks the line between the sympathetic informer with a tremendous ego, who is both Veronica's dubious ally and the vicious criminal who finally gives her up. Gerard McSorley excels as drug tzar John Gilligan. His presence is so terrifying and menacing that it's difficult to believe that Guerin did not back down immediately after listening to his graphic threats. I would have left the country after meeting him. Her relationships with other journalists, (those both friendly and critical of her work), the police, drug-dealers and their cohorts, prostitutes, and drug-addicts on the streets of Dublin provide some excellent entertainment and more insight into her feisty character.

This film gives the viewer an exciting and thoughtful glimpse into politics and investigative journalism - just as "All The President's Men" did in the 1970s. Veronica Guerin is one of many reporters who gave their lives, and continue to do so, in pursuit of exposing injustices and crime in our society. This film commemorates the life and career of one woman but does serve to remind us of the many others who walk her path. A most powerful and highly recommended film.
JANA
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
On the off chance that you do not know what this film is about, "Veronica Guerin" begins with the title character surviving a court date for parking and speeding tickets before her car is stopped at a light and two guys come along side on a motorcycle and knock out her window with a gun. The actual assassination comes later, but clearly Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett) is going to get blown away, so when the film fades to black and we then find ourselves two years earlier, we understand that we will learn what who wanted this reporter dead and why. In case we do not understand, there is a fair amount of background details provided on screen.
For an American audience, at least, this 2003 film fits into an established genre, in which an intrepid reporter fights to get the story. What is more difficult to appreciate is that when Guerin was killed in 1996 she was the first journalist murdered in Ireland. That makes a difference because even though in this film Guerin is motivated by a mixture of outrage over young kids doing drugs and the desire to make a name as a journalist, one of the other defining elements is that she is rather reckless. Even after she is shot, in the most serious of the early warnings for her to stop investigating the Dublin drug trade, you still have the feeling that she does not think anybody will go so far as to kill her. Not because of the repercussions for crossing that line but more because nobody has ever done so before. Indeed, before she is killed the worst thing that happens to her is not the savage beating administered by the drug kingpin, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley), but rather his unveiled threat as to what he will do to her son.
Still, it is possible to read Guerin's culpability in her own death as being due more to naivatee rather than any act of hubris, even though dismissing her police guard was obviously not a smart move. Certainly family and business associates both try to disuadde her from from courting danger, but we know they do not make movies about reporters who give up, so Joel Schumacher's film is going to play out this drama to the end. There are also aspects of libel laws in Ireland that force nicknames to be used for the major criminal figures, that have to be taken into account because it means having your name in the paper means something quiet different over there. But still, our expectations for this genre overwhelm the unique qualities of this particular story, which gets played out by the numbers, including the requisite epilogue that serves to enumerate why Guerin's death was not in vain. This is a good film, but given its subject matter you have to think it should have been more inspiring.
One of the interesting aspects of this film from a cinematic perspective is that we have seen some of the characters and the story before. Martin Cahill (Gerry O'Brien), the infamous "General" of Guerin's stories is the subject of John Boorman's 1994 film "The General," with Brendan Gleeson as Cahill. Then there is John Mackenzie's 2000 film "When the Sky Falls," which fictionalizes this story as that of Sinead Hamilton, played by Joan Allen. It seems "Veronica Guerin" is the least regarded of the three, which speaks well for the other two films (which I intended to view shortly) in that this film is pretty good. Blanchett's performance as Guerin is solid enough, and if she lost out on an Oscar nomination it might be because votes for her were split between this film and "The Missing."
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2006
This review of Joel Schumacher's homage to the martyred Irish journalist is written to honor her on the tenth anniversary of her death.
Cate Blanchett is riveting as the title character, who faces down incredible danger, not only to herself, but to her family as well, as she tries to make her job as a journalist more substantial by reporting on Dublin's growing drug problem, rather than sticking with comparatively minor stories such as church scandals. I feel her performance had more substance than that of Joan Allen's in another film based on Guerin's life.
Brenda Fricker is Veronica's likeable and concerned mother, and the other standout performances are by Ciaran Hinds and Gerard McSorley as Guerin's two main nemeses.
Guerin's tragic end, although foreseen at the beginning can make a viewer reel. But the equally powerful aftermath is noteworthy, too. It was literally and figuratively a case of "getting the Irish up", and the decrease in the drug problem, and the persecution of the drug lords, and the confiscation of their ill-gotten gains.
Perhaps Guerin could be considered the unofficial Patron Saint of journalists. This film magnificently captures the grittiness and terror of the underworld, and Guerin's bravery in facing it.
As Christ left an imprint on the cloth with which Guerin's presumed Patron Saint wiped His face along the Via Dolorosa, so too, did this Veronica leave a powerful imprint upon her country and help change it for the better. The name, "Veronica" means "true image", and she definitely held a mirror up to her countrymen and women and made them see and face up to an unflattering truth about a specific problem in their country. Peace to her spirit, and peace and strength to her widower and son.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2004
I was impressed by Cate Blanchett's performance even more so how well they cast her into this role. She definitely could pass for a relative of Veronica Guerin or that is what it looked like to me anyways. I went out and read a book about Veronica afterwards and was impressed at how well they covered this part of her life in such a short time. I am still waiting to own it. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2006
Cate Blanchett has done it again - played someone you can't take your eyes off of, and not because she's a classic beauty but she's just a good actress and plays such intense roles. Here, she's the single-minded outraged Irish reporter out to expose the drug trafficking in Ireland in the mid 1990s. Yes, it's based on a real person, a very real Veronica Guerin, who took her life in her hands with her desire to have this problem taken care off so the kids in her country wouldn't have such easy access to harmful drugs.

According to the film story, the drug problem was ignored or the police were just ineffective in dealing with it, so Guerin goes after the mob as an investigative reporter. Her husband pleads with her to stop, knowing she could easily be killed. The gangsters were tough and realistically portrayed on film. There is no talk-now-shoot-later nonsense. You mess with them, you will pay. That's the message they give Guerin and you'll have to see the film to find out what happened.

Yup, this is an attention-getter from the start and especially with Blanchett in the lead. A good story and highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2004
this was such a stong, powerful movie that i just sat there in awe. i couldnt belive what i had just watched. the acting was awesome, but the story...was shocking. at the end i thought about what i had just seen and cried. a women, put herself on the line for the greater good, and lost her life in prosses. Cate Blanchett was so great in this role, as she is in all of her roles, but this takes the cake.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2006
Cate Blanchett embodied Guerin's energetic spirit, her affable charm in getting the answers she needed from the boys, her determined upfrontness with the drug lords themselves and ability to push aside her fear and press with her work when her life was threatened.

I wondered half-way through the movie when the woman would give up after such brutal threats on her life. For a journalist, she seemed to be championing a cause rather than just reporting the news.

It wasn't until her death, as noted in the film, when Ireland's attitude and laws towards illegal drugs began to change. I had no idea the impact Veronica Guerin had on revolutionizing the Irish community. A young reporter stopped at nothing to show her society that a situation was becoming out of control and no one was taking notice. She made it her job to make them notice and unwittingly became a heroine. It was then I truly began to appreicate her bravado.

Great movie based on a true story.
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