Cate the Great
Cate Blanchett is a goddess. So beautiful that you just want to fall at her feet and weep, sure, but the talent. My god, the talent. This is her bestest, stunningest, most remarkably surefooted performance ever, but I think I’ve said that about each of her previous roles, I’ll probably say that about the next one, too, and the one after that, and the one after that.
I want to have her babies.
I say this just so you know how big a grain of salt with which to take my lavish praising of Veronica Guerin… though, is there anyone who doesn’t want to have Cate Blanchett’s babies? Don’t we all agree that she is a creature sent by the gods to delight us? I don’t want to know if anyone thinks otherwise — I’ll stick my fingers in my ears, la la la, and not hear you.
It’s the effortlessness, I think, with which she becomes the characters she plays. There’s nothing actorly or put on about her performances, and yet clearly there’s much work that goes into them — she spent a month in Dublin, getting to know the real Veronica Guerin through her friends and family and coworkers, and, I love this, perfecting her Dublin accent, like she wasn’t born and raised there by Dubliners who’d been Dubliners since forever. Well, that’s how she ends up sounding by the time Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, Bad Company) starting shooting. She works and works and makes it seem natural.
I rented Pushing Tin a couple of years ago, partly because I knew Blanchett was in it, and halfway through the film, I said to myself, Hey, I thought Cate Blanchett was in this. And at that moment I suddenly realized that I had, in fact, been watching her all this time — she was the gum-
Guerin — this is her true story — was an investigative reporter for Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper when she was shot and killed in 1996 by the drug kingpin she was about to expose. “Irish drug kingpin” may not have quite the ring we’ve come to expect from this particular breed of dirtbag, but this is the flip side of the Celtic Tiger, the bounding Irish economy of the 1990s: the country’s bigtime emergence into the international financial arena brought hard drugs into the country in quantities never before seen, and Dublin — parts of it, anyway — was like one big shooting gallery. The film opens with Guerin visiting rundown flats on the wrong side of town, researching a story, and it’s disgusting: little kids playing in a veritable sea of discarded needles, ignored babies, scared old people, hollow-
It’s an Irish thing, this sort of ye-
With gray, seedy Dublin as its background, Guerin has almost a noir feeling to it. Characters called Fatso and Hippo and The Monk certainly help, but it’s mostly down to Blanchett, who imbues Guerin with the tenacity of a bulldog and a saucy attitude in the face of gangsters and drug dealers and psychos of the worst sort. And like a great noir hero, her triumph comes in her death. It’s a total bummer, and yet there’s also something joyous in it, too, a celebration of not giving up or giving in and of refusing to be bowed by a bunch of wankers who think they’re big men because they have guns.
And in giving voice to this extraordinary woman, Veronica Guerin is Blanchett’s most extraordinary triumph yet… until, of course, her next one.