Veronica Guerin Reviews
The film focuses, not simply on Veronica Guerin, but on other angles in affairs regarding Irish drug trades of the 1990s, with particular attention towards the gangsters conducting the trades, and I kind of admire that ambition, but in execution, the film's focus jars all about the place, uncertain about which route to take, largely because it's uncertain about the pace it should take along the paths. A fair bit of the film is steady in momentum, or at least blandly draggy, but if a runtime of just over 90 minutes sounds too short for a film following subject matter this weighty, then you're on the money, because more than anything else, the storytelling sustains a busy, heavy-handed pace that is made all the more aggravating when it forcibly breaks the slow-downs, and always drives the plot forward with a monotony that wears you down something fierce. If nothing else, the business comes at the expense of exposition, seeing the film rush along its points, following what should have been a place for immediate development that is all but abandoned, thus, screenwriters Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue try to make up for characterization shortcomings by resorting to molding thin character types. The antagonists may be particularly cartoonish, but even the leads are lacking in layers within this thin character study, whose contrivances do not end with the characterization, thriving on somewhat improbable happenings that at least feel histrionic when backed by Joel Schumacher's overwrought atmosphere, a reflection on overstylization in the director's efforts. The direction is overblown pretty much across the board, and although it matches ambition with inspiration enough to beget some compelling moments, Schumacher tries too hard to salvage depth from a superficial and flimsy script, and from a story that, no matter how conceptually worthy, is too blasted unoriginal to deeply enthrall. If this basic story about drug trades and journalism doesn't feel generic in the context of a film narrative, then the storytellers make it feel trite, hitting the usual contrivances and tropes, and doing so at a terribly incoherent pace, with terribly incoherent focus, challenging your investment every step of the way. Potential is betrayed time and again, but not entirely at the expense of one's investment, which is shaken, yet never lost, at least when it comes to style.
Harry Gregson-Williams is a very gifted score composer who can deliver on punchy pieces and powerful symphonies, and here, when the soundtrack gets rather action-oriented, it gets cheesily overstylized, and often falls behind the relative slow spells in order to establish some sense of nervousness, yet when things get more tasteful, they see a very unique blend of Irish music styles and modern classicism that is pretty powerful, complimenting the weight of the dramatics, while tensions are complimented by Brendan Galvin's handsomely bleak cinematography. The score work and cinematography, while not necessarily stellar, have solid highlights which define the effective aspects of a mostly overblown style, defined by flashy plays on visuals and editing, by David Gamble. These stylistic bloatings are the fault of Joel Schumacher, whose direction is heavy-handed and flimsy in its pacing, contrivances and tropes, and yet, the directorial hiccups reflect, not so much a laziness, but too much ambition, which does go fulfilled often enough, through intense heights in gritty style and atmospherics that peak with a surprisingly powerful ending, to make for a reasonably effective dramatic thriller. At the very least, whether he's proving genuinely effective, or getting rather frantic with his ambition, Schumacher delivers on pure entertainment value throughout the course of this superficial, but lively affair, and that, to some extent, endears you to the deeper areas of potential within this film's subject matter. Veronica Guerin's is a story that has been experienced by many journalists seeking to shine a light of troublesome and dangerous matter, and more than a few of those journalists have been brought to the screen, thus, this film's story is nothing new, and its potential is further obscured through a problematic interpretation, but it is still worthy, whether it be focusing on the brutality and intrigue of the Irish drug trades of the 1990s themselves, or on a charming woman who has to get serious for the safety of society, even if that means threats to her own safety. If nothing else convinces you of this contrived film's human depths, then it is the performances, all of which are pretty strong, with Cate Blanchett, of course, standing out, with a convincing Irish accent, and a charm that sells the lightheartedness of the titular lead which is brought too much to light for too often, until tension thicken, allowing Blanchett to do a better job than the writers of projecting a sense of strength and fear in a woman who is threatened, but remains passionate about doing good. Blanchett is unsurprisingly solid, about as much, if not more so than anything else in this messy film, which remains endearing enough to entertain and occasionally compel, even if it could have done so much more.
Uneven in focus and pacing, often intensely, with underdeveloped character types, contrivances and genericisms, the final product ultimately collapses as a decidedly underwhelming take on worthy subject matter, done enough justice by highlights in entertaining and sometimes effective direction that works fairly well with Harry Gregson-Williams' strongly heartfelt score work and Brendan Galvin's handsomely bleak cinematography, and by a talented cast that Cate Blanchett stands out from to secure Joel Schumacher's "Veronica Guerin" as a decent, entertaining and sometimes truly engrossing, if ultimately thoroughly improvable drama.
2.5/5 - Fair