Richard Jewell Image

Richard Jewell

By Alex Saveliev | November 21, 2019

The heart of this tale, however, is its characters. Paul Walter Hauser is a revelation as Jewell. It’s one of those rare performances that transcends mere mimicry (although Hauser clearly studied the real hero’s mannerisms). His Jewell lives with (and adores) his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates), has aspirations of becoming an enforcer of the law; he’s naïve, ambitious; he perhaps suffers from a slight case of arrested development. When the world turns against him, he’s both reserved and flabbergasted, only allowing the floodgates to open towards the end. It’s a truly remarkable, unforgettable feat of acting.

Hauser gets tremendous support from a cast of stalwarts. Sam Rockwell can do no wrong, and here once again provides an extra wallop of heart and humor as Richard’s lawyer, Watson. Jon Hamm, in his 200th project this decade, is reliably resolute and conniving as FBI agent Tom Shaw. Kathy Bates will pull at your heartstrings, particularly in an emotional final plea for humanity, and Olivia Wilde has fun with her “vehement reporter” part, a character aptly named Kathy Scruggs.

“Paul Walter Hauser is a revelation as Jewell… a truly remarkable, unforgettable feat of acting.”

Sure, the film’s not without its flaws. Eastwood’s never been known to avoid overt sentimentality, and it’s evident here on several occasions – particularly in Kathy Scrugg’s sudden, abrupt transition from a merciless go-getter to sympathetic sap. Richard Jewell is a tad long – 10 or so minutes left on the chopping room floor may have made for an even tighter result. These are minor niggles that most will not notice.

Eastwood once again takes a sharp stab at America’s penchant for attacking first, asking questions later. (Some would claim that’s quite ironic, considering his political leanings/past, but I try to separate a filmmaker’s personal views with the ones expressed in their work.) His film is about society’s tendency to glamorize and demonize in the same breath. We’re all pawns, trusting drones on celluloid, not seeing the humanity beneath the pixels. The real Richard Jewell passed away from a heart attack at an early age. His legacy will live on in Eastwood’s indelible film.

Richard Jewell screened at the 2019 AFI Fest.

Richard Jewell (2019)

Directed: Clint Eastwood

Written: Billy Ray

Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde., etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Richard Jewell Image

"…Eastwood methodically, and in a supremely muscular and suspenseful fashion, tells Richard’s story"

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  1. Joe says:

    I’ll be seeing this tonight at a screening, but I’m afraid my expectations are already tempered. I enjoy Eastwood’s movies and even, despite my own political leanings not aligning with his, appreciate that he makes films that tend to stand against the mass of liberally-skewed Hollywood films. This one, however, seems less about the story at hand and more in response to the current political climate of the country. Every review I’ve read paints the characters involved as two dimensional: Richard is the naive, ambitious victim wrongfully accused of the crime, even though he fits the profile as a loner with a stockpile of firearms and fantasies of being a heroi police officer. Conversely, the FBI agent and news reporter here fit the stereotype that Trump has set a precedent for: conniving, lying, cheating, and just generally being antagonists towards innocent people.

    I don’t mind all these characters being painted in this light if they’re equally rounded out as actual human beings with both strengths and flaws, but this seems to be more of a case of representative caricatures that fit our presidents rhetoric than the actual people in this story: FBI and media bad; average, firearm stocking, police wannabes good.

    Eastwood is better than that and it’s disappointing he’s settled for such obtuse characterizations. Despite all this being said, I’ll reserve full opinion for after I’ve seen the film.

  2. MikePhillips says:

    I’m going to see this one for four reasons:
    1. Eastwood, a true patriot
    2. Eastwood movies are never a disapointment
    3. Filmed in Georgia, not Hollywood
    4. Exposes a corrupt mainstream media and some of their agenda
    I wish Jewell were with us today so he could see there are Americans out here who will remember his story and who appreciate his service to others. God bless that man.

    • M Simpson says:

      Before heralding this as a great exposure of corrupt media, why don’t we wait to see if the film correctly identifies the motivation behind the actual bomber/bombings—Eric Rudolph set four bombs nationwide because of his anti-abortion and anti-gay beliefs.

      Will be interesting if Mr Eastwood calls out the right wing conservative who caused Richard Jewell all his woes…..

    • JJ B says:

      I find it sad in a way to read you’ll see a movie because it’s filmed “in Georgia not Hollywood.” I have nothing against Georgia or state film boards -quite the opposite; each state should bring in as much business as possible for their people- but I wish people knew the real working professionals of Los Angeles. LA’’s a “company town” as much as Detroit or Hershey, PA, are or were. Builders, painters, artists, designers, tech people who invent extraordinary new techniques, pushing the boundaries for other disciplines. They raise families and support their communities and help their neighbors like hardworking people everywhere. The word “Hollywood” is a term for the world’s best in storytelling on film or tv.

      • Alan Ng says:

        Considering the events of the film take place in Georgia, it would make sense it should be filmed “in Georgia not Hollywood.”

        • Bradley Gibson says:

          Also… as a long-time Atlanta resident, the fact is that we are Hollywood South now… or as some like to say here “Y’allywood.” Not my favorite appellation, but it gets the point across. Pinewood studio has a sprawling campus near Atlanta. Tyler Perry just opened his studio lot here, and we have Blackhall studios. Films are made here every day. All of the Marvel movies are shot here. We are the movie business as well!

    • Agreed! You’ll love the film for those four reasons – and many more.

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