Veronica Guerin (2003)

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Released 12-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Joel Schumacher (Director)
Audio Commentary-Mary Agnes Donoghue And Carol Doyle (Writers)
Featurette-Public Mask, Private Fears
Featurette-A Conversation With Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Veronica Guerin Speaks At The CPJ
Gallery-Photo-Producer's Photo Diary (With Commentary)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Joel Schumacher
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Cate Blanchett
Gerard McSorley
Ciarán Hinds
Brenda Fricker
Don Wycherley
Barry Barnes
Simon O'Driscoll
Emmet Bergin
Charlotte Bradley
Mark Lambert
Garrett Keogh
Maria McDermottroe
Paudge Behan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Patrick Cassidy
Toby Chu
Harry Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Portuguese
Polish
Czech
Hungarian
Hebrew
Greek
Slovak
Russian
Portuguese Titling
Polish Titling
Czech Titling
Hungarian Titling
Russian Titling
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Polish Audio Commentary
Czech Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Slovak Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Polish Audio Commentary
Czech Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Slovak Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Why would anyone want to kill Veronica Guerin?

    The above tag line for this film is one of the least appropriate I have come across. Within half an hour of starting to watch the movie, the answer to the above question becomes blatantly obvious. Veronica Guerin was a crusading Irish journalist - originally an accountant before making her name on the pages of the Sunday Independent - and her investigation into the Irish drug underworld proved to be a deadly one. This film tells the story of the last two years of her life. In the film Veronica Guerin, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by the patchy Joel Schumacher, Cate Blanchett stars in the title role. With a very impressive accent and a strong physical likeness to the real Guerin, she delivers yet another stellar performance.

    At the opening of the film we see the shooting death of Veronica, so the story is told as a flashback, revealing how she came to be placed in such perilous danger. Guerin is shocked to witness the blatant heroin abuse amongst the poorest denizens of 1990s Dublin. Young children play amongst literal piles of discarded hypodermic needles, whilst hollow-eyed teenagers look for a vein in the run-down tenements of the city. She determines to trace the source of the drugs and bring to justice those who are making a living from the suffering of the city's children. Her concern for their fate is in sharp contrast to the apparent disregard for her own safety - and indeed that of her husband and young son.

    Guerin was either incredibly brave, or incredibly foolish. She takes on the drug lords, face-to-face, refusing to be intimidated by them. Unfortunately for her, the criminals are not keen to relinquish their lucrative source of wealth without a fight - and the very public, very famous and very outspoken Guerin bites off more than she is ultimately able to chew. As she becomes more brazen about her pursuit of the major drug dealers, they become more brazen in their attempts to silence her. Veronica is threatened, offered bribes, beaten, shot in the leg...and ultimately killed for her work.

    Guerin's crusading story makes for a film which represents an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours, but which for this reviewer is unlikely to warrant repeated viewing. The acting is of a high calibre - both from the highly accomplished Blanchett (Elizabeth, Lord of the Rings, and The Talented Mr. Ripley) and the much less familiar Irish supporting cast (the eagle-eyed among you will spot a brief one scene cameo from heart-throb Colin Farrell). The story moves along swiftly enough but requires that you pay attention to avoid becoming confused by the endless procession of criminals. I became slightly confused by the alternate naming of one character as "Coach" and "Trainer"...until I activated the subtitles and realised that his surname was Traynor. The libel laws in Ireland at the time required journalists to avoid using the real names of suspects so there are plenty of nicknames on offer during the movie.

    There is some rather "earthy" language used in the film, and one or two confronting brutal scenes, but neither the language nor the violence seem gratuitous - they lend a near documentary sense of reality to the piece at times. Despite an intriguing story which holds lots of potential, I never felt fully engaged by this film. Perhaps by having the death of the heroine within the first few minutes, the suspense which could be generated in the bulk of the movie is dissipated. Veronica Guerin can certainly be recommended as a rental for fans of Blanchett or modern Irish history, but I suspect there will not be many people who feel that this disc is an essential purchase for the collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this film is very good.

    The movie is presented in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    Image sharpness is generally good, although there is a degree of softness to some of the transfer which drops it below true razor sharpness. I think this is consistent with the near documentary feel of the film and is certainly not a distraction.

    Black levels are very good with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail is also serviceable but can drop away to complete blackness a little too quickly on occasion, losing some detail in the darker scenes. Colours are solid enough, although the colour palette is frequently rather grey and dour - perhaps befitting the wintry Dublin setting - lending an overall cold and gloomy feel to the film. There are some nice primaries which crop up from time to time - most strikingly the pillar-box red of Guerin's dashing Calibra. Skin tones looked a tiny bit too orange in some shots - in my experience Dubliners tend more towards a pale blue complexion!

    The transfer has no glaring MPEG artefacts. Aliasing and edge enhancement were not a concern for the vast majority of the movie with the transfer being technically fine in this regard.

    The transfer is very clean with little evidence of either positive or negative film artefacts to mar the image.

    The English subtitles are well timed, clear and only miss a few words for the sake of brevity.

    This is a single sided, dual layer (RSDL) formatted disc, with the brief layer change barely noticeable at 66:52 when Traynor and Guerin are talking in the pub.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is perfectly serviceable.

    There is a single English audio track for the main feature, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. It is free from notable defects in the way of pops, hiss or dropouts and dialogue is clear at all times, although some may find the Irish accents a little hard to fathom on occasion.

    Original music is credited to Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, Antz and Phone Booth) and here he creates a score full of brooding Irish melancholy and some appropriate dramatic cues. The traditional Irish vibe is intercut with some percussive pounding and ominous string passages which fit the mood of the film rather well, generating an air of tension where required - I enjoyed this score quite a lot.

    The dialogue is firmly located in the centre channel. The front speakers provide a robust soundstage with some quite broad separation, and with some noticeable cross-soundstage panning incorporated. The surround channels sometimes deliver a mildly enveloping presence thanks to the lilting musical score. They also provide some occasional locational and directional effects, but there is often little in the way of ambient sound beyond the musical score in what is a primarily frontal soundstage.

    There is some subwoofer activity during the movie, albeit with little in the way of substantial LFE presence. Smashing glass and gunshots do get a bit of a bass kick, but given that the film is largely character rather than action-driven, the bass track is not a hugely important component of the soundstage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are fairly substantial.

Menu

    The animated main menu is an intriguing and stylish affair which just begs you to explore the disc. It allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of a healthy twenty-eight chapter stops, audio language and subtitle selection, plus access to the following features:

Audio Commentary 1

    Director Joel Schumacher provides a wide-ranging and fairly interesting discussion of the finer points of the film, which is quite laid back and easy to listen to.

Audio Commentary 2

    Writers Mary Agnes Donoghue and Carol Doyle deliver a commentary which deals with the realities of life in Dublin at the time of the story, and the real life Guerin (with whom they seem incredibly familiar) rather than focusing on the actors or the film per-se. It is a worthwhile listen for those who wish to learn more about the factual background to the movie.

Public Mask, Private Fears

    This featurette runs for 13:01 and is presented non anamorphically enhanced at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It goes slightly deeper than the typical behind the scenes EPK piece, and has former colleagues, cast and crew discussing the importance and bravery of Veronica Guerin's crusade.

A Conversation with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer

    Running for 20:36, this featurette shows text-based questions being answered by the producer as clips from the film play at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps. It is mildly interesting.

Deleted Scene: Veronica Speaks At The C.P.J.

    This short scene runs for 2:25 and is presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps.

Veronica Guerin Speaks At The Committee To Protect Journalists

    Archive footage of the real Guerin speaking at the C.P.J. running for 3:40. This is the actual footage on which the above deleted scene is based, and is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps.

Producer's Photo Gallery

    A bit better than the usual useless photo gallery. Bruckheimer's own stills from the set are presented with his commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps. It runs for 6:50 and is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1. One or two of the shots are quite impressive.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film appears to be almost identical to our own, although it does feature an additional dts 5.1 audio transfer. The Region 2 release, strangely enough, misses out on all of the extras afforded the Region 4 release. It would seem that our version is as good a purchase as any.

Summary

    Veronica Guerin is a fairly sombre film dealing with the murder of the eponymous crusading Irish journalist. Cate Blanchett delivers a great performance - complete with very impressive Irish accent, and is easily the best thing about the piece. The film is certainly worth watching and tells a powerful story - but never quite manages to fully deliver the suspense of which the story is capable. Worth a rental by all means, but it may not be one you will return to repeatedly.

    The 2.35:1 video transfer is very good.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer is good.

    The extras are quite substantial - particularly as there are two full length commentary tracks on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Monday, June 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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