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Veronica Guerin

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
Veronica Guerin
from Film Forum, 10/23/03

Of the featured women in this week's new releases, Veronica Guerin is the one with Oscar buzz. Screenwriters Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue have adapted the life of an Irish journalist into a thriller and a tribute of sorts. The movie, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin, Phone Booth), stars Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings' Galadriel) in a role many say will earn her an Oscar nomination.

As with Luther, Ali, A Beautiful Mind, and most biopics, viewers have quickly raised questions of historical accuracy. For some, the liberties taken with the facts have a detrimental effect on the film. But several critics are bothered more by the style of the work than how it strays from the historical truth.

Guerin, in the mid '90s, wrote about controversial issues like pedophilia in the Catholic Church. But her investigative reporting on the increase in illegal drug trafficking and its impact on young people became to her more than just a news story. Her personal efforts to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the problem led to a tragedy that became the stuff of headlines.

Movieguide's critic calls it "a tough, sobering look at an evil system and the fight it took to overcome an established system of crime. 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. 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.'"

For David DiCerto (Catholic News Service), the film is "ultimately engaging," but not entirely successful. He explains: "The story also is not well-served by the filmmaker employing visuals and music that seem to cue the audience to the desired emotional response. Such manipulative attempts to manufacture emotion, rather than trusting in the narrative's inherent drama, diminish the film's overall cathartic impact."

Mainstream critics are divided over the picture. Many approve of it for Blanchett's fine work, but others are discouraged over the liberties taken with the story.

from Film Forum, 11/06/03

Another Hollywood release Veronica Guerin continues to draw flack from Christian film critics. Stef Loy (Matthews House Project) says the movie's problem "is not in the story, but the way in which it's told. [Director] Joel Schumacher … convolutes the simple narrative by trying to pull too much from his bag of movie tricks. Cate Blanchett does what she can to rescue Schumacher from complete embarrassment, bringing, as always, a commanding performance to the forefront of our attention. But it is too little, too late."


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