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Cinema

The Trials of St. Veronica.

Caught Veronica Guerin over the weekend, and, well, frankly, don’t bother. I had hoped Cate Blanchett might make this project interesting, but this by-the-numbers Joel Schumacher schmaltzfest never rises above the level of a Lifetime channel movie of the week. It breezes through scene after scene of Guerin’s tough-as-nails-with-a-heart-of-gold interview style and the obligatory home v. work domestic squabbles like Scriptwriting 101, and never gives us a very interesting portrait of its protagonist, other than to cast her as some neglected patron saint of journalism. Similarly, the bad guys have become really bad — While the real Guerin took on a cannabis cartel, this film’s gangsters are trafficking in heroin, resulting in grim visions of needle parks, toddlers playing with syringes, strung-out teenagers prostituting themselves, and sundry other shocking evils that have little basis in Guerin’s real story. If anything, the film’s dependence on so many standard cinematic cliches is a disservice to the real Veronica Guerin, who was murdered by Dublin’s criminal element for exposing the truth to the light of day. Why obscure her tale and besmirch her ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty by stripping it of the character nuances and human complexities that separate the real world from dramatic convention? A sadly mechanical genre exercise devoid of anything but formula, Veronica Guerin is a missed opportunity and a shame.

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