Veronica Guerin by another name
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 03/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"2003 saw the extraordinary Cate Blanchett star in VERONICA GUERIN in the title role of the Irish investigative reporter for "The Sunday Independent" who ran afoul of Dublin's criminal underworld and was murdered on June 26, 1996. WHEN THE SKY FALLS, starring Joan Allen and released three years earlier, is a fictionalized version of the same story.It would be difficult to choose between the two films. Allen and Blanchett are two of the best actresses in the business. The latter brought more effervescence - perhaps too much - to the role. The former ratchets the glamour of the Guerin persona down a notch to a more credible level. Indeed, for the purpose of the story, Allen takes on a fictional identity - Sinead Hamilton.Key events in the efforts by Guerin/Hamilton to expose those behind Dublin's illegal drug traffic are common to both productions: the invasion of Guerin's home by a pistol wielding thug who shot her in the leg as a warning, her beating by the mobster John Gilligan - here named "Dave Hackett" (Gerard Flynn), and her fatal shooting by a couple of motorcycle riders while her cherry red sports car was stationary at a stoplight. WHEN THE SKY FALLS places greater emphasis on the emotional support provided by her husband, here played by Kevin McNally, while VERONICA GUERIN is a bit grittier in its depiction of heroin's effects on young addicts. Both movies provide an unsparing look at the violence employed by those controlling the drug trade, both show the importance of criminal informants to Guerin's/Hamilton's information gathering, and both portray the uneasy but ultimately symbiotic relationship the reporter had with local law enforcement.If I was forced to pick my favorite of the two films, I guess I'd have to go with VERONICA GUERIN simply because I'm so smitten with Cate Blanchett. But both are eminently watchable, and both are a tribute to the quixotic bravery of the woman who paid the ultimate price."
It's About Time
Patrick Osthues | Modesto, CA United States | 05/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story is finally told. "When the Sky Falls" is a fact-based drama of the events surrounding the high profile murder of crime reporter Veronica Guerin in Ireland in 1996. In the movie, Joan Allen plays Sinead Hamilton, a reporter for a Dublin newspaper (the names are changed, probably because of strict Irish libel laws). Hamilton probes Dublin's underworld, writing stories about the city's growing drug epidemic and in particular about a powerful drug lord named Hackett. As one might expect, Hackett (whose real name is John Gilligan) and his cronies are not pleased with Hamilton's exposure of their criminal activities. Hamilton soon becomes the target of intimidation and violence. Unwilling to be silenced, she continues to speak out against Hackett despite the danger to herself. Ultimately, she puts her life on the line for her devotion to the truth. Who would have thought that this would happen in a "safe" European country like Ireland? "When the Sky Falls" is a gritty and unblinking study of Guerin, the people out to stop her, and Dublin's drug problem. Allen does a respectable job portraying Guerin alias Hamilton, a reporter, wife, and mother risking her life for a just cause. Patrick Bergin also appears in the movie. He plays an unorthodox Garda (Irish police) detective who helps Hamilton and is determined to put Hackett away. Again, another good performance. This movie is a must see for people who like crime dramas or those who want know the full story of Veronica Guerin and her sacrifice."
The "fictionalized" version of the Veronica Guerin story
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am not alone in checking out "When the Sky Falls" after watching the Cate Blanchett film "Veronica Guerin" since the 2000 film is a "fictionalized" account of the same story of the Irish reporter who was assassinated by mobsters in 1996. The obvious question was why would director John Mackenzie turn the real Veronica Guerin into the fictional Sinead Hamilton (Joan Allen). I did not know the answer until I watched the featurette on the "When the Sky Falls" DVD.Before her murder Veronica Guerin was collaborating with writing Michael Sheriden on early drafts of the screenplay. The idea was to tell a realistic story about the Dublin criminal underworld and at some point it became obvious that the story should be about a crime correspondent investigating the story; in other words, a character modeled on Guerin. However, the reporter insisted that her name not be used and even when she was murdered and the story of "When the Sky Falls" became her story, director John MacKenzie respected her wishes and kept the name change. The film was supposed to end with the reporter being honored for blowing the lid of the drug lords, but when Guerin was murdered the story by screenwriters Michael Sheridan and Ronan Gallagher changed to not only end with her death but explain why the mother of a young boy continued to investigate and write stories any being shot and repeatedly threatened.The story is about a journalist doing writing exposés on the Dublin drug trade. One of her key sources, Mickey O'Fagan (Jimmy Smallhorne) is not to be trusted and Mackey (Patrick Bergin), the cop in charge of the investigation, is more than willing to break the rules to bring down the drug lord Dave Hackett (Gerard Flynn). However, what Mackey and the police think of Hamilton is not clear; it seems they run warm and cold on her. Then there is her husband, Tom (Kevin McNally), who knows it is pointless to try and stop her from doing her work, despite the danger, and the journalistic community that seems to be content to watch her from the sidelines. The performances are also solid enough, not that we would ever expect anything less from Allen, who has a more sainted version of the character to play than Blanchett. That distinction emphasizes that the key difference between the two films is not the details of the story but the meaning ascribed to them. The bottom line is that this film was not as effective. Perhaps it is because I know the basics of the story and there are several key scenes in "When the Sky Falls" that we saw in "Veronica Guerin." Mackenzie made the neo-classic Brit mobster movie "The Long Good Friday" two decades earlier and this film has the appropriate look, but when you compare those scenes you find his approach is much quicker, the scenes more abbreviated, and the violence more subdued than in Joel Schumacher's 2003 film. There is a sense in which we are rushing through some of these scenes. "Veronica Guerin" is a slicker film, which is not necessarily appropriate for the telling of this story, but "When the Sky Falls" fails to really take advantage of the grittier tack. You should check both of them out because you are not going to be able to go wrong with Allen or Blanchett in a leading role. Having seen both films my recommendation would be to watch "When the Sky Falls" first, not just because it came out first, but also because it is, to some degree, the fictional version and because I think it is the correct order for best appreciating the efforts of the two actresses."
Watch the film "Veronica Guerin" instead
tendays komyathy | U.S.A. & elsewhere traveling | 11/28/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"25 minutes into this film I began to wonder why I was watching this film. Like many here, I had seen the film "Veronica Guerin" & chose to view "When the Sky Falls" so as to compare the two. The reason that there are two versions is that the latter film (finally made in 2000) got the go ahead while the real-life journalist Veronica Guerin was still alive; with her permission under the proviso that all names would be changed and that her story would be fictionalized to a certain extent as well. That the real Veronica Guerin was murdered in the interm doesn't seem to have changed anything regarding "When the Sky Falls." The film "Veronica Guerin," in contradistinction, is more a biopic done wth panache; a captivating biopic of this woman's exploits in exposing the criminal underworld in Dublin. It thus has ecclipsed "When the Sky Falls" in large measure. Of course, one may view both films to compare them, but if one is enough for you the film to watch is "Veronica Guernin" in my opinion. To put it differently, If you choose to give this film a try, whatever you do, DON'T watch "When the Sky Falls" without seeing "Veronica Guerin" too. Frankly, "When the Sky Falls" is not an accomplished work, whereas "Veronica Guerin" is; and moreover IS the film to see to learn about the remarkable Miss Guerin. The Guerin film comes with 3 audio commentaries (from the director, producer, and screenwriters) and actual video of the real woman herself. To boot, the film "Veronica Guerin" is full of powerful scenes done remarkably well; whereas in "When the Sky Falls" most are rushed through. And while Joan Allen is a wonderful actress, her lines in "When the Sky Falls" are simply not enough to support the leading lady she portrays; so much so that she becomes almost the supporting player to the central detective in this film. The director of "When the Sky Falls" says on that film's audio track that he sought to present the outlines of Miss Guerin's story. Now that we have the very well acted & emotional 2003 film "Veronica Guerin" why settle for outlines? Cheers!"