Richard Jewell

Richard jewell

By Joanna Langfield

There are a few things in this movie I’m not so sure about. But its lead performance sure isn’t one of them.

This slim, but well intentioned drama takes us back to the 1966 Atlanta Olympics, when security guard Richard Jewell, initially heralded for his heroic actions, was unjustly accused of terrorism, thought by the FBI and reported by the media to have set off a bomb during a concert in Centennial Park. Drawn from Marie Brenner’s Vanity Fair article, screenwriter Billy Ray and director Clint Eastwood have clear intentions as to how we should see this historical case of a man wrongly and very publicly accused.

Much of the story is told in episodic, no frills style. We are shown what makes Richard an almost complicated good guy, but this is a film with its heart and agenda clearly on its sleeve. We feel so sorry for Richard’s mother (a fine Kathy Bates), we hate that crooked FBI man (John Hamm), we root for the down on his luck lawyer (a terrific Sam Rockwell) and we know Richard is being framed. Just like we’re supposed to. But do we have to think the reporter who broke the story was a slutty floosy who slept with her sources? Reports to the contrary are running now, but why does a lively, hard driving female reporter have to be transformed, wrongly, into a slut?

What this uneven bio-pic also does is offer a star turn for an actor whose supporting work in a few recent films (notably I, Tonya and Blackkklansman) has been outstanding. Paul Walter Hauser plays this, and every role I’ve seen him in, with such a seamless integrity, we never “see’ him acting. He’s that good. And clearly, an actor with a great range and, hopefully, a great future.

One Response to “Richard Jewell”

  1. Richard Jewell | The Movie Minute Says:

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