❉ Joel Schumacher’s riveting political thriller is given the Special Edition Blu-ray treatment.
Imagine this – eclectic director Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, Batman Forever, Flawless, The Lost Boys) teams up with super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Bad Boys franchise) for a riveting and intelligent political thriller telling the tragic true story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, who exposed crime and drug activity in Ireland, which resulted in her very-public assassination. If that sounds like a terrific idea for a movie, well, I’d agree with you. But did you know this very-excellent piece of storytelling and film-making actually did get made, and was released to insanely dismissive reviews and paltry box-office in 2003? I bet most people aren’t even aware of this film’s existence, which is a shame, because it’s easily one of the best pieces of work that Schumacher and Bruckheimer ever put their names on, and that’s due in no small part to the focused, down and dirty screenplay by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue, and a bravura leading performance from then-on-the-rise Cate Blanchett in the titular role.
The immediately engrossing narrative kicks off somewhat mid-stream, with Guerin working as a crime reporter for the Sunday Independent, as she becomes aware of just how intense the illegal drug trade is in Dublin, with many working class folks suffering as a result of the various societal complications which ensue when you just can’t get hardcore substances off the street. She vows to bring those who are responsible to justice, and despite repeated warnings from local gangsters (Gerard McSorley cuts an incredibly imposing portrait of a ruthless gangster who isn’t afraid to get nasty at a moment’s notice), she never backs down from her mission. Ciaran Hinds and Brenda Fricker provide strong support, and look for Colin Farrell in a twitchy cameo; it was Schumacher who famously gave Farrell his breakout role in the scrappy Vietnam training drama, Tigerland. The slick and gritty visual aesthetic favoured by Schumacher and cinematographer Brendan Galvin is thoroughly appropriate for the material, and Harry Gregson-William’s propulsive musical score perfectly meshes with the fleet pacing established by editor David Gamble.
And it goes without saying, Blanchett dominates the entire picture with an extreme sense of force and conviction; this was a performance that should have been discussed during that year’s awards season. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release offers an excellent visual transfer, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with deep and rich blacks (much of this thematically murky material is reflected in the somber, dark lighting and muted colour palette), and an attention to an overall cinematic quality which is interesting to note, as this movie was shot right on the cusp of the major transition from film to digital, roughly 20 years ago. Special features include informative commentary tracks with Schumacher and Doyle & Donoghue, an interview with Bruckheimer, some deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer. This is a very underrated piece of business, and will likely be a major surprise for anyone who happens to give it a viewing; it’s definitely “one that got away” in terms of a studio not realising how good of a movie they actually had.
❉ NEW Audio Commentary with Director Joel Schumacher
❉ Audio Commentary with Writers Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue
❉ Public Mask, Private Fears: The Making of Veronica Guerin
❉ A Conversation with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
❉ Deleted Scene: Veronica Guerin Speaks at the Committee to Protect Journalists
❉ The Real Veronica Guerin Speaks at the Committee to Protect Journalists
❉ Producer’s Photo Diary with Jerry Bruckheimer
❉ VERONICA GUERIN – Trailer
❉ ‘Veronica Guerin’ (Special Edition) (Blu-Ray) Directed by Joel Schumacher. Cast: Cate Blanchett, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Gerald McSorley, Niall Toibin. Running Time: 98 minutes. UPC: 7 38329 23230 6. Region 1 encoding. RRP $24.95 USD. Click here to buy (Only ships to US & Canada)
❉ Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.