July 27th, 1996, a bomb exploded at Centennial Park in midst of the Summer Olympics. Two people died. A tragedy that has been largely forgotten, whether it be the mistreatment of Jewell or the bombing. Clint Eastwood’s film is fantastically well-made, moving, and full of heart.
Starring Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, BlacKkKlansman), Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell, and Olivia Wilde. Hauser is so good, largely understated and calm, with few moments of break-out that will surely go on to define him as a rising star. However, it is humanity that is examined- the condition of Jewell, his loved ones, and his oppressors. Hauser’s relaxed-natured portrayal of Jewell is one of depth and kindness; you truly feel for him and especially his mother (Kathy Bates).
We follow Richard Jewell (Hauser), an ambitious security guard who saved many lives at Sentinel Park on the day of July 27th, 1996. Acclaimed and named a hero, Jewell got much attention as the ‘hero’ of the 1996 Olympics. Only to become the target of a bogus investigation by the unrightful meddling of the FBI. The film explores the impact on the lives that the FBI’s cruelty and inhumanity touched.
Hauser captures Jewell’s sometimes infuriating outer calmness with ace-compassion. It is obvious to see Eastwood’s connection to the subject, capturing and conveying the deepest levels of frustration and real empathy. I found myself tearing up multiple times. Even if the story seems rather alien, I compel you to watch and listen to the gracefulness told in this film. Eastwood does a great job (as usual) in capturing authenticity and reality, as he recently did with The Mule. It is a simple tale, but a humanistic tale that attaches to your heartstrings.
I love the film the more I think about it, it continues to linger on my mind, therefore, it has had an effect and is a great success. While the performances and direction have been applauded, the script must be mentioned. Writer Billy Ray (Overlord, Gemini Man) ultimately pulls together the film to a level of realism and is of great aid to Eastwood’s style. Shot quite beautifully, it is stylistically grounded and yet, never bland and always compelling.
Richard Jewell is fantastically moving and told with a humane touch; you truly feel for Jewell and his injustices. Paul Walter Hauser and Kathy Bates (Oscar-nominated and worthy) are immensely tremendous. The film is a must-see and hopefully will go on to be appreciated.
Score: ★★★★ 1/2