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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin
Newsnight Review discussed Cate Blanchett in Veronica Guerin.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

Ian Rankin, it is a fantastically compelling story. It has been turned into a thriller film, but does it work as a film? We know the ending.

They give you the ending at the beginning of the film, as they must. It is a fantastic story, but very often you find fantastic, great real-life stories don't always make great movies. I came to this and looked at the opening titles and thought we were getting a Jerry Bruckheimer production, this is the guy who gave us 'Con Air' and 'The Rock', we're getting Joel Schumacher of 'Batman and Robin' fame who had Arnold Schwarzenegger as 'Mr Freeze'. And then made 'Phone Booth' with Colin Farrell. And here's Collin Farrell getting a bit-part in this film. He must have owed him a favour I guess, you think you're being set up for this great conspiracy theory, with explosions, and guns and car chases and you name it and then they stick so closely to the real story, the journalistic bits of it that you think speed it up a bit, give us something fictional, something Hollywood.

You want block buster?

Veronica Guerin, is made too clean, too clean-cut, there is not enough of what is driving her to do this. If it had been a male journalist I would still want to know why your family are being threatened, bullets are coming through the window, what is driving you on, why not take the 300,000 she is offered and go? Its almost like hagiography. She is saintly and filmed in a saintly way, there is a gleam around the perfect cheek bones. You can never get away from the fact that you are watching Cate Blanchett.

The script is a thing that lets this picture down. It is all surface. You watch Cate Blanchett - she does nothing more than smirk through the whole thing. There's this scene where she goes to the door of John Gilligan and starts berating him and he punches her out and I would think, "I'd punch you out too." That is not actually what the movie is about. There is a moment in the hospital after she has been shot, she stops grandstanding and her husband is looking at her. She changes and the mask comes down and you sit back and think ah, now we'll find out what makes this woman tick, why does she keep going back for punishment, why ignore her child, her mother, brother, husband, but the script never opens up. The movie stays on the surface. Inspite of the fact that Cate Blanchett's performance and the other actors' are wonderful here.

We're berating the fact there's not much of a family story, but what about the softness on the politics, for example, were you happy about that?

I think the film has problems in explaining what's happening apart from this kind of elemental bravery versus evil battle that is going on. There's some very surprisingly clumsy things both at the beginning and end of the film. You get a lot of text at the beginning of the film explaining who she is and what she has done before the film starts. At the end, you have a long voiceover commentary in which the rather unbelievable impact of her brave actions is explained. It is almost as if the film keeps wanting to say it is about Ireland and the state of Ireland and why it reached this parlous condition. But it never finds a way to do that.

I wonder who it is for. There was a movie released about Veronica Guerin called 'Where the sky falls' which didn't make it over here in Britain. This is the Hollywood treatment.

A major part of the film is Martin Cahill. At one point someone says he is just an ordinary decent criminal. And there was a film about Cahill called Ordinary Decent Criminal. And you think 'I've already seen this story somewhere else, why are you telling me again'. The film I was looking for almost like an updated 'Get Carter' but instead of Michael Caine you get Veronica Guerin going after the bad guys. We're never going to get that with a true story.

It is interesting because two women are responsible for the script. You would think, maybe it is wrong for me to say this, that somehow these two women script writers would have opened this very unusual woman inner life up to let us know what propels her. In the world she is encouraged to act in a way a man would act but it never really happens.

Guerin film scores Irish success
15 Jul 03  |  Entertainment


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