By Daniel Occelli (Mexico City)
Richard Jewell is the latest film directed by Clint Eastwood and in his more recent work he has films like 15:17 to Paris, The Mule and Sully, 3 films I’m really not a fan of, but after watching the trailers I was actually a little excited about this film, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The movie tells the story of Richard Jewell, a Security Guard obsessed with law enforcement, he used to be a deputy and a campus security guard at a college, but he was fired from both jobs for taking his duties maybe way too seriously. After he saves a lot of people from a bomb, located in Centennial Park in Atlanta, during the Olympics, he becomes the first suspect for the investigation that targets him as a “lone hero”, a man looking for attention who then plans and prevents a controlled attack.
Paul Walter Hauser plays the lead and I have to say, he was fantastic, from the first moment we meet him I felt like I was watching a documentary of certain security guards I’ve met in my life. He embodies this role perfectly and you really feel for him, because as great as he is playing the role of the annoying cop that takes his job way to seriously, he really shines when he’s off duty, when he’s at home, when he talks with his mom, or when he walks his dog. Easily one of the best performances of the year. As for the rest of the performances, the film had some ups and downs.
Jon Hamm was amazing as the FBI agent, as likeable as he is as a personality on screen, I ended up hating his guts. Also Sam Rockwell is as great, as you would expect from him. Those were the ups, now let’s talk about the downs; Olivia Wilde is not good in this film, and it’s mainly because of the character she’s playing is underwritten and borderline cartoonish. I get the idea of making her a 90’s working gal, a real go-getter, but it just felt like she was told to play a mean b*tch, and she played just that. By the time her redemption came I just didn´t buy it. And my last complaint regarding the performances is not with this film but with the Academy. Kathy Bates is good, maybe great at times, but there’s not enough there to give her this nomination.
Now let’s talk about the film itself, the story is treated with respect and I liked how it was distributed. It reminded me of a lot of movies of different genres from newspaper movies to law and order dramas, but it also felt very personal, I liked that. I’m not a huge fan of Clint Eastwood’s visual style, it’s way too dark and gloomy, he loves his films to look ashy and filled with shadows, but in the scene of the attack it works. I felt like I was there in the concert, following shadows and bright lights in a crowd, it was great, but it didn’t work for the rest of the film. The script was amazing, it really makes you wonder how much power does the FBI and the media have in America. And the Production Design was pretty great, the 90’s felt subtle, but it gave the production great value.
As for big issues I guess I would say I’m a little tired of Clint Eastwood taking a one day event that was resolved and making it a 2 hour movie. This made more sense than Sully and 15:17 to Paris, but it also felt like it dragged at times.
I’m going to give Richard Jewell a B-, it was better than I thought it would be and I would recommend it, if you’re into this kind of real stories retold with respect.
Watson Bryant: Richard, you’re a national hero now.
Richard Jewell: Thank you, sir. But I was just doing my job.