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Dan Heller's Movie Review of Veronica Guerin

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Cate Blanchett (1)
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It's interesting to see how people talk about how amazingly "real" and lifelike movies have become, yet they are mostly referring to fictional dramas, like "The Godfather". Ironically, movies that are, quote, "based on a true story", oddly appear anything but realistic, often to a point where it actually does the film more harm than good. "Veronica Guerin" is the latest victim of this phenomenon.

Here, "Guerin" is based on the true story of an Irish journalist who reported on the massive drug problem in Dublin in the late 1990s, and whose violent death marked the turning point for major changes in Irish law that reduced crime and drug use considerably. While the events portrayed in the film seemed authentic enough, and you felt like you were being walked through "just the facts, ma'am", two major problems with the film left this reviewer with a wide open yawn: namely, the reality of what happened are either not portrayed in the film, or are so simplistically shown that the "reality" aspect of the film has effectively been replaced
Cate Blanchett (2)
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by fictional drama; and the drama itself lacks all the qualities that make a "story" compelling to watch: three-dimensional characters, compelling relationships, motivations for the heroes and villains, and justifications for why things are done or decisions made.

Basing movies on real events is certainly not new, but what is new these days is the trend towards a "sanitized" edition of events, cinematically embellished to heighten the mood or tone of the underlying story, historical facts notwithstanding. Films like "A Beautiful Mind" and "Seabiscuit" are the types of box-office crowd pleasers that "Guerin" is trying to be, where form wins over substance. The classic mistake is failing to develop the "dramatic" elements of the film, hoping that the victorious heroine's story alone will be compelling enough.

Hinds Blanchett
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Unnecessary is it to summarize the plot, condemn the script, or critique performances since all these elements were simply static, underutilized elements that didn't co-mingle effectively enough to tell a story beyond the simplified statement of events. Rather, the movie plays like a straightforward drug caper like a TV show. There's violence, but it's all implicit (yet, intense, nevertheless). There's no bad language, except for one scene with the same 4-letter word yelled continually. But the intensity of some scenes will keep the 13 and under crowd from the ticket counter.

Cate Blanchett (3)
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Whether American audiences will like "Veronica Guerin" remains to be seen. To most Americans who know very little about true Irish culture, or can discern intuitively a native Irish accent, the film seems true enough to form. Yet, contrast this view with most of the Irish film reviews, who characterize the accent of Australian Cate Blanchett as sounding almost American, the film has all the qualities that seem to appeal to American film-goers. Even for those who may like this style of filmmaking, I'd be hard-pressed to believe that any of it will be remembered a week later.

You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0312549/

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