Starring Cate Blanchett in the title role, "Veronica Guerin" is a story that needs little cinematic embellishment--the well-documented events themselves furnish the movie with more twists, turns, highs, lows and reversals than even the best engineered piece of fiction. As Guerin skillfully burrows her way to the truth, juggling the various and conflicting interests of mobsters, junkies, informants, politicians and newspaper editors, all while trying to preserve some semblance of a normal family life, audiences may need to pinch themselves to remember that this is, by and large, factual.
While it is Blanchett who seems most assured of year-end accolades, one cannot overlook Schumacher when discussing the picture's overarching merits. This is easily the most comfortable and restrained behind-the-camera effort of his career--an automatic awards contender that seems likely to benefit nearly everyone involved. There's much to gain, as well, from audience familiarity with at least two previous films dealing with the same or parallel subject matter: "When the Sky Falls," a 2000 UK television film from "The Long Good Friday" director John Mackenzie, which starred an equally excellent Joan Allen as Guerin (renamed Sinead Hamilton in the movie), and John Boorman's 1998 picture "The General," whose subject, famed thief Martin Cahill, figures prominently in "Veronica Guerin.
"Schumacher's film, however, has more than provincial aspirations--it was not merely an Irish cause for which Guerin died but a human cause, fighting to address a crisis of global concern. Thanks to Schumacher, Bruckheimer and Blanchett, those who most desperately need to hear that message may now do so. Starring Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley, Ciaran Hinds and Brenda Fricker. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. A Buena Vista release. Drama. Rated R for violence, language and some drug content. Running time: 96 min