Veronica Guerin

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 12:00am

Veronica Guerin

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorely, Ciaran Hinds, Brenda Fricker, Colin Farrell

Director: Joel Schumacher

The film: If ever you wanted proof that Cate Blanchett is among the very cream of the acting crop, here it is. In a film that is patchy at times, her every twitch on screen makes you forget all about any concerns you might have with the rest of the production. She is at all times mesmerising.

The story itself should make for compelling viewing. Veronica Guerin was a lauded journalist, who wrote for Ireland's Sunday Independent in the 1990s. She tackled crime head-on, determined to uncover corruption in the face of threats of violence and even death. Sadly, her demise - five shots fired from a motorcycle straight through her windscreen while she waited at a red light - was, on reflection, almost predictable given the enemies she had, and they way these people dealt with those who caused them trouble.

Director Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, Phone Booth) is a dab hand at building drama - but let's not forget he was also responsible for bringing Mr T to the big screen in DC Cab and for the lamentable St Elmo's Fire (does anyone remember Judd Nelson?). And he does tread a little too close to the tacky at times, overplaying his hand in an effort to make sure we 'feel' for his characters.

Much of that feeling is thanks to Blanchett and her steely resolve, determination and sheer physical presence. Her angular frame packs some power as she rails against the wrong-doings she sees on the streets, and in the office. It is one woman's fight against injustice. And Blanchett has us believing how lonely it must have been at times.

The problem is, Schumacher lays things on too thick. And that's a shame, because you get the feeling that here was a chance to make a truly great film.

The extras: A full package and some excellent background on the life of Guerin - including the cast and crew talking about how they researched the film, and that man Jerry Bruckheimer (producer) explaining why he became involved in the project. Add to these some touching real footage of the impassioned woman herself, two commentary tracks, and Bruckheimer's on-set photo gallery (now found on almost every thing in which he is involved).

The verdict: Good rather than great - with Blanchett's stellar performance covering over many of the cracks.