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Review: Veronica Guerin (2003)

Director: | 92 minutes | , crime, , | Actors: , , Brenda Fricker, , , Barry Barnes, Simon O’Driscoll, , , Mark Lambert, Garrett Keogh, , Paudge Behan, ,

“Veronica Guerin” was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (“Bad Boys II (2003)”, “Armageddon” (1998)). For many buffs, this may already be a turnoff. The best man is not known for his subtle and intelligent films. With this smaller film he proves that in addition to pompous action films he can also handle smaller productions. In fact, “Veronica Guerin” is a beautiful, sensitive biopic about a special journalist.

The film highlights the last two years in the life of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin. Guerin, played Cate Blanchett, is a young, ambitious journalist who is tired of writing human-interest stories. Her colleagues do not take her seriously because she has no journalistic training. Guerin is fed up, she wants to expose the abuses in her country. When she tracks down rival drug gangs, she’s determined. Ireland needs to know what’s going on in the streets. Despite the threats she receives from local drug lords, she continues to write her articles. This is getting out of hand. Veronica is murdered.

What sets “Veronica Guerin” apart from other “true stories” is Cate Blanchett’s incredibly strong rendition of Veronica. That Blanchett is an enormously talented actress, she already proved with her role in “Elizabeth” (1998). In this film she shows again that she is perhaps the best actress of her generation. Her Veronica Guerin is a real person with good and bad qualities. Her persistence is as much a part of her as her stubborn ego. Her drive is to be praised, but her stubbornness, which also endangers her family, is a less beautiful side of her character. Blanchett manages to get the viewer enough sympathy for her character.

“Veronica Guerin” is a real actor’s film. The film takes all the time to explore the characters. In addition to Cate Blanchett, it is mainly unknown Irish actors who play along, except for Colin Farell who briefly passes by in a tiny role. The performances of the other actors are good, but not worth mentioning, except for Gerard McSorley and Ciáran Hinds. McSorley plays John Gilligan, a hard-hitting criminal who uses hitmen when Guerin gets too difficult for him. Gilligan is a barrel of gunpowder that is about to burst. The scene where Guerin confronts him about his crimes is very intense and itself shocking. Out of nowhere, Gilligan hits and beats up Guerin. This is so unexpected and therefore leaves a huge impression. Ciáran Hinds convinces as the self-overrated criminal John Traynor. He lets herself be placated by Guerin and loses sight of how much incriminating information she has gathered against the gangs. When he realizes that, he even tries to protect Guerin.

“Veronica Guerin” is a beautiful film that gives a fairly truthful picture of the Irish journalist. The well-known Hollywood clichés have almost all been left out. At the end of the film the director no longer manages to control himself and the use of the makes it a bit too sentimental. That is the only point of criticism on an otherwise excellent film.

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