VERONICA GUERIN Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: October 17, 2003

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Ciaran Hinds, and Gerard McSorley

Genre: Suspense Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Joseph L.
Kalcso In the mid 1990s,
Ireland experienced an upsurge
in illegal drug trafficking of
epidemic proportions. Veronica
Guerin, an investigative
journalist who up to then had
been very successful in
writing exposes about such
incendiary issues as the
practice of pedophilia in the
Catholic Church, noticed the
increasingly devastating toll
the widespread illicit drug
trade was taking on Irish
youths. This movie tells how
she went after the criminals
responsible for dumping these
drugs into the streets of
Dublin. Hampered by a
political system that turned a
blind eye to the wealth that
the drug lords seemed to amass
from no apparent source and by
a largely indifferent public,
Ms. Guerin sets out to shine
the spotlight on the issue by
aggressively probing into
their activities. Using her
various contacts in the
underworld and in the police
department, she searches
through the suspected
criminals' financial records
for a paper trail. She writes
article after article
describing the inner workings
and destructive effects of the
illegal drug industry in her
society, and eventually she
pays for it with her life. The
movie begins with Veronica
Guerin's assassination after
stopping at a traffic light.
Although knowing this fact
right from the start helps to
soften the impact, this is
still a very hard movie to sit
through. As opposed to the
steady stream of desensitizing
action thrillers Hollywood has
been feeding the public in
recent years, the loss of life
in this movie is a realistic
event felt at a visceral,
emotional level. After the
initial shock of her killing,
the story backtracks to a
couple of years earlier, and
details step by step the
events leading to that fateful
day. Walking through one of
the seediest parts of town,
Veronica Guerin is appalled by
the dreadful sight of young
children playing with
discarded syringes, and
teenagers looking like zombies
under the influence of heroin.
After asking a few questions
here and there, her probing
quickly snowballs into a major
investigative project which
takes her on a journey through
some of the most depressing
drug shooting galleries and
bordellos seen on the big
screen in quite some time. At
one point, Ms. Guerin is
purposefully fed wrong
information to lead her off
track. Her house is shot up in
a crude intimidation attempt,
but by now she will not be
deterred. As she gets closer
to exposing the main drug
kingpin, the intimidation
tactics become more menacing.
She is threatened with her
son's kidnapping, and then her
own death. Later, Ms. Guerin
is beaten up, and even shot in
the leg. A contract is finally
put on her life, and she is
killed execution style at the
traffic light where the movie
began. Veronica Guerin's
death, however, serves as a
catalyst to mobilize the
public to finally put an end
to the rampant drug dealing in
Dublin. Legislation is passed
which makes the assets of
suspected drug lords subject
to confiscation by the
authorities unless they can
prove their money was obtained
through legitimate
means. After an uneven
directorial track record with
inconsequential, rather
flamboyant movies, Joel
Schumacher takes a decisively
serious turn. With a sad,
haunting musical score and
gritty cinematography he
ultimately presents a
sobering, emotionally charged
presentation. At the very
beginning, Schumacher seems to
verge on reverting back to his
usually garish and over the
top style by putting too much
make up on the teenage
addicts, while
surrealistically littering the
ground with too many
syringes. Schumacher, however,
soon gets back on track, and
producer Jerry Bruckheimer
possibly makes the right
choice as well by steering
clear from turning this movie
into a feminist rights vehicle
such as NORMA RAE or SILKWOOD.
Cate Blanchett as Ms. Guerin
takes full command of a very
credible Irish accent, and
though coming across a bit
young and superficial for the
part, she manages to pull it
off successfully. If there is
a weakness in the movie, it is
the limited development of few
characters while leaving the
rest of the cast as mere
cutouts. On the other hand,
the vicious and grubby drug
dealers were frightfully
realistic. Very little has
been said about Veronica
Guerin's faith, although it is
fair to assume that she had
been brought up in the
Catholic Church. We do know
that she was happily married,
and though not perfect by a
long shot (she routinely broke
the speed limit with her
sports car), she was loved by
her family, husband and son.
Criticisms and second-guessing
can always take place about
Ms. Guerin's motivations, her
investigative methods, and how
accurately Joel Schumaker
portrays her accomplishments.
Questions have also been
raised about whether she
should have put her family
first and let the bad guys
go. For all her faults,
Veronica Guerin correctly
detected a serious problem in
her society and moved to bring
attention to it by using the
tools of her trade. Through
her persistence, her tireless
research, and the power of her
word processor, she achieved
what the Irish government
could not, or would not, do.
Whatever her motivations or
tactics may have been, she had
the inner fortitude and
courage to see it through, and
bring about change for the
better. In the end, Ms.
Guerin, even if unknowingly,
put the words of the Apostle
Paul to Titus into practice:
"And let our people also learn
to engage in good deeds to
meet pressing needs, that they
may not be unfruitful." Please
address your comments
to: Michael Eisner,
Chairman/CEO Buena Vista
Distribution Co. (Walt Disney
Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood,
Miramax, and Touchstone
Pictures) Dick Cook,
Chairman Walt Disney
Pictures 500 South Buena Vista
Street Burbank, CA
91521 Phone: (818)
560-1000 Website:
www.disney.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 98 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(BB, C, Pa, LLL, VVV, SS, A, DD, MM) Strong moral worldview with redemptive, self-sacrificial truths leading to overturn of evil tolerance of drug system and many secular worldview elements with dark, hopeless system portrayed in gritty way; over 36 obscenities and five profanities; violence includes people executed with guns and maimed, tortured and killed with knives off screen, and woman beaten up; implied sex and nudity but none overtly portrayed and prostitution portrayed and child prostitution implied; alcohol use; and substance abuse; smoking and many portrayals of substance abuse; and, lying, deception, and child prostitution.

GENRE: Suspense Drama

BB

C

Pa

LLL

A

DD

MM

VVV

SS

Summary:

VERONICA GUERIN tells the shocking and disturbing story of a newspaper reporter in Ireland, who gave her life to rid Dublin's streets of the effects of a tolerated drug system. With rough and violent images, foul language and sexual elements, VERONICA GUERIN is a tough, sobering look at an evil system and the fight it took to overcome an established system of crime.

Review:

In the mid 1990s, Ireland experienced an upsurge in illegal drug trafficking of epidemic proportions. Veronica Guerin, an investigative journalist who up to then had been very successful in writing exposes about such incendiary issues as the practice of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, noticed the increasingly devastating toll the widespread illicit drug trade was taking on Irish youths. This movie tells how she went after the criminals responsible for dumping these drugs into the streets of Dublin.

Hampered by a political system that turned a blind eye to the wealth that the drug lords seemed to amass from no apparent source and by a largely indifferent public, Ms. Guerin sets out to shine the spotlight on the issue by aggressively probing into their activities. Using her various contacts in the underworld and in the police department, she searches through the suspected criminals' financial records for a paper trail. She writes article after article describing the inner workings and destructive effects of the illegal drug industry in her society, and eventually she pays for it with her life.

The movie begins with Veronica Guerin's assassination after stopping at a traffic light. Although knowing this fact right from the start helps to soften the impact, this is still a very hard movie to sit through. As opposed to the steady stream of desensitizing action thrillers Hollywood has been feeding the public in recent years, the loss of life in this movie is a realistic event felt at a visceral, emotional level.

After the initial shock of her killing, the story backtracks to a couple of years earlier, and details step by step the events leading to that fateful day. Walking through one of the seediest parts of town, Veronica Guerin is appalled by the dreadful sight of young children playing with discarded syringes, and teenagers looking like zombies under the influence of heroin. After asking a few questions here and there, her probing quickly snowballs into a major investigative project which takes her on a journey through some of the most depressing drug shooting galleries and bordellos seen on the big screen in quite some time.

At one point, Ms. Guerin is purposefully fed wrong information to lead her off track. Her house is shot up in a crude intimidation attempt, but by now she will not be deterred. As she gets closer to exposing the main drug kingpin, the intimidation tactics become more menacing. She is threatened with her son's kidnapping, and then her own death. Later, Ms. Guerin is beaten up, and even shot in the leg. A contract is finally put on her life, and she is killed execution style at the traffic light where the movie began.

Veronica Guerin's death, however, serves as a catalyst to mobilize the public to finally put an end to the rampant drug dealing in Dublin. Legislation is passed which makes the assets of suspected drug lords subject to confiscation by the authorities unless they can prove their money was obtained through legitimate means.

After an uneven directorial track record with inconsequential, rather flamboyant movies, Joel Schumacher takes a decisively serious turn. With a sad, haunting musical score and gritty cinematography he ultimately presents a sobering, emotionally charged presentation. At the very beginning, Schumacher seems to verge on reverting back to his usually garish and over the top style by putting too much make up on the teenage addicts, while surrealistically littering the ground with too many syringes.

Schumacher, however, soon gets back on track, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer possibly makes the right choice as well by steering clear from turning this movie into a feminist rights vehicle such as NORMA RAE or SILKWOOD. Cate Blanchett as Ms. Guerin takes full command of a very credible Irish accent, and though coming across a bit young and superficial for the part, she manages to pull it off successfully. If there is a weakness in the movie, it is the limited development of few characters while leaving the rest of the cast as mere cutouts. On the other hand, the vicious and grubby drug dealers were frightfully realistic.

Very little has been said about Veronica Guerin's faith, although it is fair to assume that she had been brought up in the Catholic Church. We do know that she was happily married, and though not perfect by a long shot (she routinely broke the speed limit with her sports car), she was loved by her family, husband and son. Criticisms and second-guessing can always take place about Ms. Guerin's motivations, her investigative methods, and how accurately Joel Schumaker portrays her accomplishments. Questions have also been raised about whether she should have put her family first and let the bad guys go.

For all her faults, Veronica Guerin correctly detected a serious problem in her society and moved to bring attention to it by using the tools of her trade. Through her persistence, her tireless research, and the power of her word processor, she achieved what the Irish government could not, or would not, do. Whatever her motivations or tactics may have been, she had the inner fortitude and courage to see it through, and bring about change for the better. In the end, Ms. Guerin, even if unknowingly, put the words of the Apostle Paul to Titus into practice: "And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful."

Please address your comments to:

Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO

Buena Vista Distribution Co.

(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, and Touchstone Pictures)

Dick Cook, Chairman

Walt Disney Pictures

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone: (818) 560-1000

Website: www.disney.com

SUMMARY: VERONICA GUERIN tells the shocking and disturbing story of a newspaper reporter in Ireland, who gave her life to rid Dublin's streets of the effects of a tolerated drug system. With rough and violent images, foul language and sexual elements, VERONICA GUERIN is a tough, sobering look at an evil system and the fight it took to overcome an established system of crime.

In Brief: