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Veronica Guerin

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Judy Thorburn

Veronica Guerin

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

CATE BLANCHETT DOES JUSTICE TO “VERONICA GUERIN”

She wasn’t a recognized name in America.  But, Veronica Guerin was well known in Ireland in the 1990’s as a gutsy journalist who put herself in harms way for a cause she believed in and as a result, paid the ultimate price for her stance when she was gunned down, execution style in her car.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Con Air, Armageddon) and director Joel Schumacher Phone Booth), both known for their flashy, big budget blockbuster movies have united for the first time moving into another genre, the serious biopic, in this dramatic and gritty true story that will stir up different, but thought provoking emotions from audiences.   In their film, based on the life of Veronica Guerin, versatile Australian actress Cate Blanchett, displaying a flawless Irish accent, gives a riveting performance as the crime reporter for Dublin’s The Sunday Independent newspaper, a fearless woman who made a crusade for herself exposing illegal drug trade and the ruthless gangsters responsible for that problem in Ireland’s inner cities.  Guerin was a woman who wanted to make a difference, and took dangerous steps to uncover the truth, regardless of the fact that her relentless probing endangered her family and eventually led to her demise.

Less of a biography, it is more a retelling of the chain of events that started with Guerin’s headstrong investigation in, 1994, and how it culminated with her tragic death in 1996. Beginning with her assassination, the film flashes back two years when we see her visiting the drug infested streets of Dublin, where children are encountered playing with used heroin needles and young teens are in a drug induced stupor. Unable to dismiss what she had witnessed, Guerin felt compelled to dig deeper to flesh out the drug lords and blow the lid on the illicit means that made them rich, especially since the law failed to do so.  After a kingpin kills a drug dealer he considered competition, and the police blame the murder on the IRA, Guerin takes it upon herself to uncover the truth at all costs.

Using connected mobster, brothel owner, John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds) for leads, many of which prove to be misinformation, Guerin finds herself in a one-woman battle against his powerful crime boss, John Gilligan (superbly menacing, Gerald McSorey) whose equestrian estate is used as a front.  What’s difficult to understand is why this loving mother and wife would continue to take bold and careless actions in the face of danger after a bullet, meant as a warning, is shot through her home window and a threat is made to kidnap her son and kill her. Not only is it obvious that her life is at stake, but she knows she is jeopardizing the lives of her family. After a gunman breaks into her house on Christmas eve and shoots Guerin in the leg at close range, she refuses be intimidated or show her fear.  Nor does the face-to-face confrontation with Gilligan at his front door, which results in her brutal beating, seem to hinder her obsession.  Advice from mother Bernie (Brenda Fricker, Oscar winner for My Left Foot) saying, “sometimes it’s braver to walk away”, is also not taken seriously.  The question that remains is why she seemed to ignore the signs that would lead to her death.  Was her sense of moral obligation to right a wrong so overpowering that it clouded her decisions? Or did she think her duty, as a journalist was more important than her safety?  We will never know.

But, it is others like Erin Brockovich or Karen Silkwood who also come to mind, as examples of people who took it upon themselves to go where others feared to tread, ignoring the life-threatening risks, in order to seek justice.  Guerin, like Silkwood knew what she was up against, but refused to be intimidated.  Due to their determination and aggressiveness, both women succeeded in bringing ugly truths to light. Unfortunately, Guerin didn’t live to see the legacy she left.  But, her stories turned the tide on the drug war and helped drive the drug dealers out of Dublin. The constitution was altered, allowing a newly created Criminal Assets Bureau, which could “freeze assets of suspected drug barons with unexplained wealth.” There is no doubt she accomplished what she set out to do.

Whether Veronica Guerin is viewed as another self-sacrificing reporter eager to get a story or a righteous martyr, the fact is, she didn’t die in vain.  Alive in the memory of her country, this movie should accomplish the same, here.