Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Veronica Guerin”

It’s the world of drugs and the hidden drug lords who rule 1990’s Ireland in the bio pic of journalist Veronica Guerin. Cate Blanchett brings the story of the journalist to life and her encounters with the seedy criminal world of Dublin, Ireland.

The Plot

Veronica Guerin writes for The Sunday Independent newspaper in Dublin. She mostly covers political stories, but when she notices the drug epidemic that is plaguing the streets, she begins to investigate.

Through her contacts with John Traynor, Veronica is plunged into the dark side of crime. When she starts publishing stories about the drug dealers and their influence, Guerin becomes a target. After being shot, then assaulted by the kingpin of crime John Gilligan, Guerin must decide if she wants to press charges and face the wrath of a crazed lunatic, or retreat from her public role.

Pursuing justice could result in Veronica becoming the headline instead of writing it.

The Good

Cate Blanchett is great as Veronica Guerin. There is a lot of personality to the character that makes the audience identify with Guerin and to root for her success. Blanchett repeatedly makes Guerin a human with her choices and actions. Blanchett’s talent allows us to connect with Guerin on a personal level.                                                                                                 

Any movie with Ciaran Hinds is a great movie, no matter what happens in the film. He is a force on screen, no matter how small his role is. The audience cannot help but be captivated by his work.

The Bad and the Ugly

Veronica Guerin runs the risk of dramatizing real life events to make them more cinematic to help sell the movie. What I wondered about is why Guerin started on her drug crusade. The film never really explains that point, which makes me wonder why on earth would she put herself and family at risk.

Furthermore, when Guerin is shot and assaulted, we never really understand why she keeps writing about the drug dealers. A normal human reaction would be to hide. So was Guerin superhuman, or did she naively believe that she wouldn’t get hurt? There is a scene between Blanchett and Brenda Fricker which hints at Guerin’s stubborn streak. While the mother relays the story of Guerin’s stubborn actions as a child, Guerin is proud of her persistence, while her mother states she is missing the point of the story.

Colin Farrell deserved to have more screen time then the miniscule scene he had with Blanchett.

Beyond the Film Facts

  • The film won Best Irish Film at the Irish Film and Television Awards.
  • Cate Blanchett was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role.
  • Gerard McSorley, Ciaran Hinds, and Brenda Fricker were all nominated for their roles at the Irish Film and Television Awards.
  • Jodie Foster was reportedly in talks to play Veronica Guerin.
  • Patrick Bergin was originally cast as Chris Mulligan.
  • At the end of the film, there is a disclaimer that states Chris Mulligan is a composite character of many people.
  • During the promotional tour for Matilda, Danny DeVito was interested in directing the film. When he was in Ireland, he reportedly met with Guerin’s family about a future feature film.
  • The movie was shot on location in Dublin, Ireland.
  • The 2000 film When the Sky Falls is loosely based on Veronica Guerin and starred Joan Allen.

The Streamy Award:

{The following four categories are based on a Film Reel scale.

1 Reel-Watch on your Smartphone, 2 Reels-Tablet Time, 3 Reels-Travel Entertainment, 4 Reels-Big Screen Event}

Veronica Guerin has its problems, but it’s an alright film. The movie is led by a stellar performance by Blanchett and Hinds makes the slimy John Traynor a compelling character. Like any biopic the film is not necessarily a 100% factual story, but it shows some truth in the dangerous quest the real Veronica Guerin was on.

The audience is allowed to judge Guerin and her work, and I give Veronica Guerin a 2 Reel Rating. This isn’t your standard Jerry Bruckheimer produced action explosion fest. It’s a personal story which has its faults.

Cast and Crew

  • Cate Blanchett as Veronica Guerin
  • Brenda Fricker as Bernie Guerin
  • Ciaran Hinds as John Traynor
  • Gerard McSorley as John Gilligan

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Jerry Bruckheimer Films / Persevere Productions Ltd.

Release Date: October 17, 2003

Budget: $17 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $1,571,504

Worldwide Total: $9,439,660

Coming Soon

Next week a review of the Touchstone comedy Corky Romano starring Chris Kattan.