Most helpful critical review
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Troubling Hagiographic Bio-Pic
on February 6, 2008
"Veronica Guerin" (2003), a biographical/true crime/drama/thriller, is set in recent times in Dublin, Ireland, tells an Irish story, has a largely Irish cast, but appears to have been largely American-made. And that's only one of the puzzling things about this movie. Story and screenplay are credited to Carol Doyle; direction is by Joel Schumacher; Jerry Bruckheimer, with his typical largesse - the brightest colors, and the most possible action-- gets the production credit. The film received one Golden Globes nomination.
The movie plays like a hagiography of its title character, (Cate Blanchett), a crusading journalist, determined to wipe out the Dublin drug trade. Brenda Fricker plays her worried mother, Bernie Guerin. For the other side, Gerald McSorley gives us a chilling portrait of gangster boss John Gilligan; Ciaran Hinds, a seedy street level thug, John Traynor. (From the tough, hard-edged performances given us by these gentlemen, it seems possible that a quiet class antagonism underlies some of the violence in the picture.) Further, Colin Farrell turns up in a brief cameo as a tattooed young man, without billing, who knows why.
Blanchett, remarkable cheekbones and all, gives us an intense, highly watchable performance as Guerin. Is she too pretty for the character? Too delicately made? How true is the movie to life? That's puzzling, too. The film seems to portray its leading character as reckless to a foolhardy degree. She's a daughter, a sister, a wife, and the mother of a young child, yet she ignores threats on her life, and the child's, an actual beating, and a gun-shot wound. (The film opens with her assassination; so I don't think I can be spoiling it for anyone by discussing it.) We have recently developed the concept of "suicide by cop;" that is, a person has had enough of it all but hasn't the courage to pull the trigger and end it. So he creates a situation in which a cop will have to do it. Seemed to me Guerin was almost going for "suicide by gangster," creating confrontations with people she knew to be violent.
Her assassination does lead to hearings held, laws changed, ill-gotten gains confiscated, perhaps a dozen men imprisoned, and a blip in the drug trade. For that, she paid a high price, as did her family. On a quite recent trip to Ireland, several people mentioned, without prompting, that the drug problem among the youth of the country is still severe. Observers might think that this drug use is caused by widespread social problems the country has yet to solve, and that, where there's a market, ways will be found to supply it.