Heroic Frenzy (Film Thoughts: Richard Jewell)

large_richard_jewellI don’t know why the story if ‘Richard Jewell’ passed me by. This happened fairly recently, in 1996, and it was such a media frenzy but I hardly know or remember it. It seems like the kind of story that I would be into, too. But in any event, I come into Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ without knowing much about it except its basic backbone, which is of  the ‘is the hero a villain’ narrative. And I have this thing about Eastwood films. Basically, they are mostly not really my cup of tea – his style of film making is straight and matter-of-fact, and sure a lot of times, his films have Republican ideologies and talking points. You can actually sense some of them here in this film. For example, distrust of the FBI is a prevalent conservative theme nowadays, fueled by Trump fighting against investigations against him.

But back to the film, Eastwood plays it pretty straightforward here, and sticks to the nuts and bolts of the story. And it is a very interesting story, one where he tries to present all the points and you go through acknowledging an act of heroism, and disbelief about how the media can skew opinion on it based on nothing (there goes another current Republican talking point) This happened during the mid 90s, and I can just imagine the different kind of advanced media frenzy if this happened today. Paul Walter Hauser plays Jewell effectively, and I like the fact that he plays the character unapologetically, without mining for the audience’s sympathy. Kathy Bates, playing his mother, is effective as well, turning an understated performance for a hysterical role.

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