Veronica Guerin


Directed by: Joel Schumaker
Written by:Carol Doyle, Mary Agnes Donoghue
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley, Ciaran Hinds, Brenda Fricker, Don Wycherley
Released: January 15, 2004
Grade: A-

“No hand can deter me from my battle for the truth.” – Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin was a relentless journalist who wrote for Ireland’s Sunday Independent.  Between 1994 and 1996, her stories about the drug lords of Dublin left her synonymous with the Irish public.  Never before had someone had the guts to expose these criminals and finally the citizens of Dublin were learning of the seedy underworld corrupting their city.

Her popular, award winning articles were also read by those who featured in them.  Suffice to say they did not enjoy their anonymity being shattered in millions of newspapers across the country.  In October 1994, bullets were fired through the windows of her home.   In January 1995, a masked man entered her home and shot her in the leg.  In September 1995, she was heavily beaten by a suspected drug lord whom she was trying to interview.  Finally, in June 1996, she was shot by two men whilst sitting in her car at a set of traffic lights.  She was the first journalist ever to be murdered in Ireland.

Guerin’s story is the stuff of which movies are made.  She was an unfortunate victim but she was living proof that one person can make a very big difference.  Within a week of her death, the government introduced laws clamping down on drug dealers.  Those responsible for her death were brought to justice and eventually over 150 arrests were made.  It would be wrong to say she was solely responsible for this but her actions went a lot way.

Australian actress Cate Blanchett puts on a superb Irish accent to play this revered character.  Some viewers have been critical that the film portrays Guerin as too much of a “saint” and that she wasn’t as passionate and determined about her plight as the film makes out.  Perhaps this is so and I do not know the fact well enough to dispute them.  Still, I enjoyed the overall feeling of this picture and whilst we often criticise them (me included), there are many journalists who do an amazing job and will stop at nothing to expose hidden truths.  Director Joel Schumaker makes reference to this in the finale when he points out that 189 journalists have been killed in action within the last six years.  That’s a staggering number.

The film itself was shot in Dublin on a budget of just $17m and the most has been made of the money and location.  It’s ironic but Joel Schumaker is always at his directorial best when working with a small budget.  Compare the brilliant Tigerland, The Lost Boys and Falling Down with the not-so brilliant Batman & Robin, 8MM and Bad Company.

Receiving only a limited release in Australia on a small number of screens (I’m not sure why), Veronica Guerin is a very unique and interesting story which I heartedly endorse.  A little sugar coated but aren’t all true life adaptations these days?