Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars
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Director: Rob Thomas
Cert: 12A
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hansen
Running Time: 1 hr 0 mins

The initial gossip about this diverting private-eye drama has all been to do with the means of its financing. Fans of the TV series have, since its cancellation in 2007, been agitating for some sort of reincarnation. The film eventually came together after a Kickstarter campaign that saw more than 90,000 donors donate some $5.7 million (€4.2 million) towards its production.

This delay has left the film-makers with a bit of a problem. The original show was often described as a hip, contemporary take on Nancy Drew. Kristen Bell starred as a teenager who, first in school then at college, worked as a PI in a Californian town as home to violent death as Jessica Fletcher's Cabot Cove.

Time has passed and Ms Bell, though still spry, can no longer pass for any sort of youth. After a nifty precis of the plot so far, we find Veronica about to take up a position as a lawyer in Manhattan. Inevitably, a murder then causes her to make her way home.

A pop star has been found electrocuted in her bath and the main suspect is an old boyfriend of our hero. Initially there just to give support, Veronica is slowly drawn into the investigation. She visits a grim high-school reunion. There is some ugly business involving sex tapes. Conspiracies are unravelled.


The film has some fun with its peculiar gestation. The word "Kickstarter" is mentioned and James Franco turns up to offer an amusing cameo as himself. Though the Drewish riffs are no more, Bell offers us a dry, hard-boiled heroine who prides herself on never being ruffled.

Shot in flat, broadcast-friendly images, Veronica Mars never looks much like a proper feature film. But private eye mysteries are so rare these days – indeed, the form is almost extinct on the big screen – that the film ends up feeling surprisingly fresh. At least some of those investors deserve to make their 10 bucks back.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist