Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell ★★★★

I’ve been somewhat resistant to the first three parts of Clint Eastwood’s American Hero Cycle (AMERICAN SNIPER, SULLY, and 15:17 TO PARIS) because, I think, the structures have been off? SNIPER is a great portrait of life in the military for military families, but there’s this invented sniper-v-sniper subplot shoehorned in. SULLY’s dramatic tension is wholly invented and absurd: the man was hailed as a hero throughout his time in the spotlight. 15:17 is stuck with non-actors reliving their worst/best moment, but that moment is too short to support a 100 minute movie. 

But RICHARD JEWELL has a clear set of villains: the federal government and the media (with a bonus college administrator hitting the trifecta of modern evildoers!). Their behavior throughout is unjustifiable; Jewell was a hero whose life was destroyed for no good reason. And Eastwood’s simple style drives home the plainness of their perfidy. If it can happen to this obese simpleton who won’t shut the fuck up and listen to his lawyer (an excellent Sam Rockwell) because he believes so strongly in the innate goodness of the system—of OUR system—it can happen to anyone. 

Also, Olivia Wilde’s character opens her first  scene by announcing she wants a boob job so she can get a TV gig and shooting a double bird at the hags in the newsroom who hate her. Best. Character Intro. Ever. A-plus troll, A-minus characterization (a bit TOO on the nose, but suitably cackling).

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