`Guerin' rates more than even great Cate

MovieReview

October 18, 2003|By Roger Moore | Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Veronica Guerin reminds us that great journalism often begins as outrage and turns into a crusade. It's a pity that this great story doesn't amount to a great film, but it is never less than competent, a workmanlike take on a martyred Irish reporter who wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty or risk her life in pursuit of truth and justice.

Cate Blanchett shines in the title role of an egotistical Irish newspaper reporter who led the pack in exposing Ireland's burgeoning drug trade and the thugs running it. As we see in the opening scene, she pays a price for her relentlessness.

But that's just the end of the story. What Joel Schumacher's film is more interested in is how many times this fearless woman faced danger, how many chances she had to give up the fight, and how she never did.

Guerin was a celebrity and a bit of a hot dog. As Blanchett plays her, Guerin revels in her fame and, when not caught up in her own righteous indignation at kids playing with abandoned needles in Dublin's slums, starts to sense her own invincibility.

She has long bullied John Traynor (Ciaran Hinds), a lower-level mob leader. Then she runs afoul of John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley), and is too cocky to see the stakes have risen.

Her comeuppance is shocking and bloody. And that's when her true character shows. Guerin picks herself up, tries to get justice in the courts and, failing that, resolves to make things right on the printed page.

Blanchett's Guerin isn't all there is to this movie. The villainous scheming and speculation about who brought her to grief pulls us away from her a few times. But Blanchett is why it is worth watching.

The film has a good sense of the seedy side of Dublin and Guerin's outrage. But Veronica Guerin paints an unsatisfyingly incomplete life. Schumacher needed a lot more movie here to make this story as compelling as the history upon which it is based.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Veronica Guerin

Starring Cate Blanchett, Ciaran Hinds, Gerard McSorley

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Rated R (violence, language, drug content)

Released by Buena Vista

Time 92 minutes

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