'Veronica's' truth shines on screen

Veronica Guerin 3 stars R,98m Starring Kate Blanchett Directed by Joel Schumacher Release Date: Oct. 17

Courage and a passion for truth can cost a lot. For Veronica Guerin (Kate Blanchett), a witty Dublin journalist, the price was her life. "Veronica Guerin," the film, poignantly memorializes its courageous title character's battle against Dublin's drug pushers in the mid-1990s.

Veronica Guerin has a lot to lose: A husband, a young son, friends; yet, her encounters with heroin-addicted teenagers and the sight of Dublin children playing with syringes impels her to act: against the pushers, against death threats, against the pleas of her loved ones, against common sense.

Indeed, early in the film Guerin seems na?ve to the world she's entering. The suburbanite seems in over her head when dealing with Dublin's underworld. She follows deliberately fabricated leads and snoops in a few wrong places. But, she grows wiser.

Her wit and charm, which Blanchett brings through with a quick tongue, gain her access to police files, a government minister and an enigmatic gangster named Trainer (Ciaran Hinds). Trainer plays the role of friend and informer in their playful rapport.

Trainer seems the noble gangster, somewhat above the muck, but over time the audience notices a change. His cowardice and dishonesty contrasts Veronica's courage and verity. Yet, his initial kindness leaves viewers anxious over Trainer's fate.

After sifting through false leads, Veronica discovers the kingpin, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley), Trainer's boss. He is a small man, given to fits of rage. Ruthless and cunning (the mark of any great drug kingpin), he knocks off his competition on the south side of Dublin. Weary of the relationship between Trainer and Guerin, he warns Trainer about revealing his name and uses the relationship to circulate false leads about the south side hits.

Shot and assaulted, Guerin digs deeper. The fight becomes personal and passionate for her. She is going to "get this bastard," she says of Gilligan.

Her husband fades into the background. He insists she stop, but her drive overpowers his will. He becomes a loving prop for her fight. Her mother is more insistent. She seems frustrated by Veronica's stubbornness and insistence on being like the boys.

The image of the children, which contrasts with her own son's tranquil life, moves Veronica too deeply. This single-minded pursuit of the truth wins her support and fame in Dublin. The more the gangsters attack her, the more powerful she becomes.

Tragically, it costs nothing less than her life to defeat them. Her martyrdom, however, galvanizes the previously weak resistance to the pushers. Anti-drug marches that previously had 20 marchers now rally thousands.

This film brings all the power of this courageous woman and her martyrdom - only seven years in the past - to new life. It is inspiring and cautionary. No doubt many in the audience left with noble thoughts of pursuing the truth; however, an equal number left with the icy image of Veronica's open sun roof revealing her bloody body draped across the front seat of her car.

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