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Investigative Journalism

We're two days into 2011, and I'm already on my second movie post of the year. Woo hoo!

Veronica Guerin (2003)
Screenplay by: Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Ciaran Hinds, Gerard McSorley, Brenda Fricker, Barry Barnes, Don Wycherley, with a brief appearance by Colin Farrell

Synopsis: This film is based on the true story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, who was assassinated in 1996 after she exposed Dublin's most powerful drug lords in a series of stories for The Sunday Independent.

This story is a great example of how investigative journalism can be a force for major change: following Guerin's death, the Irish parliament passed the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, which allows the government to seize assets purchased with money obtained through criminal acts such as drug trafficking. Her death also led to the prosecution of several known drug lords as well as the establishment of the first ever Witness Protection Program in Ireland. It's so sad that all this came a such a great cost.

There is a scene in the movie where Veronica is doing a television interview after being shot in the leg by a home intruder and she says that she never thought anyone would "shoot the messenger." In this day and age, sadly, it happens all the time. When I was working at my old job, I had a co-worker who received several threatening phone calls after the newspaper started publishing a series of stories she wrote concerning local gang activity. There was never any follow-through on the threats, but it was terrifying nonetheless.

The content of the film doesn't strike me as Joel Schumacher's normal fare -- when I think of him, I think of more action/adventure type movies -- but it was nice to see him take on a true story. One great thing about this film is that it was shot entirely on location in and around Dublin. Also, I'm pretty sure the entire cast, with the exception of Cate Blanchett, is Irish. The casting director probably could have found an Irish actress to play Guerin, but it's understandable that they'd want a big name for the title role. I actually felt Cate did a great job in role, and I thought her accent was pretty convincing. Have you seen this movie, ilovehulajosh? Thoughts on her accent?

Other bright spots in movie include an cameo by Irishman Colin Farrell (in the role of the unnamed "tattooed boy") and Ciaran Hinds as Guerin's confidential source John Traynor. Hinds' talent is obvious despite the hair & makeup department giving him the worst dye job and fakest mustache I have ever seen. No, seriously; they were bad.

Overall, this was a solid film and is worth a watch, especially if you are into journalism and/or true crime stories.