“Richard Jewell”–A Hidden Gem
In Richard Jewell, a 2019 Clint Eastwood docudrama, Richard Jewell (played by relative unknown Paul Walter Hauser) , is first adored as a hero for thwarting the bombing of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. But “alternative facts” and frenzied media coverage turn against him. His daily life is turned upside down when he is considered the principal suspect in the bombing by FBI and local police.
Jewell is almost a caricature of the lonely white male, living with his mother (Kathy Bates, in an Academy Awards-nominated performance). Deeply proud of his patriotic duty to uphold the law and protect the community, Jewell goes to herculean efforts to do so. He impersonates police on a college campus and is belligerent to teenagers’ raucus behavior. His excessive obsession results in the indignities of ridicule and dismissal from his peers and superiors. Even the teen boys don’t take him seriously.
Then the Olympics bombing occurs. Finally, Jewell gains the limelight–much to his surprise and satisfaction. But his behavior fits the FBI profile for a domestic terrorist, and his treatment by government law enforcement, particularly FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) soon becomes a nightmare. And, of all people, Jewell can’t believe they would treat him as a suspect.
An engaging and deeply moving performance by Hauser raises this sleeper of a film to an unforgettable one in its portrayal of a bad-luck victim of chance!