Director Clint Eastwood has made a powerful and moving new film about the man caught up in the aftermath of an explosion at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, RICHARD JEWELL.
The minute I’d watched the trailer for RICHARD JEWELL last October, the movie was on my watch-list. The new film from director Clint Eastwood looked both fascinating and gripping, as it was presented in one of the very best trailers I’ve seen in quite a while. More on that in a moment.
Then when I saw the movie on its UK release in February, I found it a hugely emotional experience. Tears were streaming down my face as the end credits started rolling after finding out about a momentous chapter in the life of this man RICHARD JEWELL who was previously unknown to me. Now that the movie is out on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD, I urge you to see it and perhaps you’ll have the same emotional experience as I had.
So, back to that trailer. It absolutely perfectly ratchets up the tension of the events surrounding security guard Jewell in the aftermath of an explosion at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. He discovered the bomb and saved many lives but after initially being hailed as a hero, he became the focus of an FBI investigation and a media storm when it was thought – and reported by the local newspaper – that he was the bomber. For nearly three months, Jewell and his mother Bobi underwent a daily nightmare as he was questioned time and again by the FBI (the source of a key moment in the trailer) and they became prisoners in their apartment due to the ever-present group of press outside.
Watching this man’s life fall apart makes for distressing but powerful viewing and in Paul Walter Hauser’s terrific lead performance, we are totally gripped to find out how it all plays out. The other members of the main cast are no less eye-catching as we have a deservedly Oscar-nominated Kathy Bates as Bobi, Jon Hamm as Tom Shaw the lead FBI agent on the case, Olivia Wilde as the reporter who broke the story Kathy Scruggs and fresh from his Oscar-winning turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a first-class Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s friend and lawyer Watson Bryant.
A film by Eastwood is always worth seeing and I’ve found it interesting that the movies he’s made in the last few years have all been based on true stories. Starting with the life of navy S.E.A.L. Chris Kyle in American Sniper in 2014 – which was an enormous success – he’s subsequently uncovered the story of World War II veteran Earl Stone and his connection to a drug cartel in The Mule and explored the truth behind the plane crash into the Hudson River in Sully – the movie which most came to mind whilst watching RICHARD JEWELL. Eastwood has said,
“It hasn’t been a conscious choice to tell heroic stories or make movies about everyday heroes. I just do the stories that come along and interest me. Some feats are exceptional and beneficial to society and it’s nice when you can tell a story like that.”
Of course, when you’re adapting the events surrounding a person’s life, as screenwriter Billy Ray has done here, you can not only shine a light on a story worth telling (as the tagline of the film and my post title illustrates) you can also potentially court controversy. And in this film, that controversy has been around the portrayal of the reporter Kathy Scruggs and how close she really was to her FBI source which leads to her breaking the story. Olivia Wilde certainly plays Scruggs as a forceful go-getter in the pursuit of a headline but if you watch the whole movie, you’ll see that she was not without a strong, moral code too.
All I can say is take a look at that incredible trailer first, then see the moving film and decide for yourself.