• Jasmine Holly Bullock

Richard Jewell: Film Review

Richard Jewell follows the disreputable FBI investigation and public hounding of Richard Jewell, a security guard working at Atlanta’s Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympics. On the 27th July 1996, Jewell discovered a bomb shortly before it detonated in the park during a concert. The bomb injured 111, killed 1 and contributed to the fatal heart attack of 1 other member of the public. Jewell was thrown into media frenzy and hailed as a hero for a short time, until he was then accused of planting the bomb that he discovered.

Richard Jewell is a docudrama directed by Clint Eastwood and partially produced by Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name just a few involved in the process. Eastwood seems to have a knack for telling stories inspired by true events; he did a great job of this with films like Changeling, J. Edgar and American Sniper as well as many others. Eastwood’s production and retelling of the story of Richard Jewell is equally as fantastic as his other fact based films.

This film had a really great cast, with actors such as Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde and Kathy Bates. All the characters in the film had very distinctive personalities and each actor was able to portray their roles perfectly. The two stars of the film were Rockwell (as Watson Bryant) and Hauser (as Richard Jewell), their chemistry was amazing and they both gave brilliant performances. Rockwell’s loud portrayal of Bryant was honest and funny; he provided some much needed comic relief at times. I have not seen Hauser in anything before but I was very impressed with his representation of Jewell. Hauser captured the naive and soft nature of the real Richard Jewell, judging from what I’ve seen of him in interviews from 1996, Hauser really made me as a viewer want the best for his character. I’d be interested to see more of Hauser!

(Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell & the real Richard Jewell)

The backing track of the film didn’t stand out much but there were some song snippets during the Centennial Park concert scenes that some older viewers would recognise and have a sense of nostalgia for. The one song I did recognise that gave me some nostalgia, as well as a cringing response, was Macarena by Los Del Río. Seeing a group of people in this specific scene dancing the iconic Macarena dance and singing along to the song definitely captured the feel of the 1990s and the cheesy party music scene. It was awful but wonderful.

In regards to the cinematography, I liked the variation of the shots used and you could tell the choices in the change in things like shot sizes and framing was well thought out. I haven’t seen many films lately that play with the size of a shot, so this was interesting. I really liked the use of real footage of things like interviews with Jewell, news reports, and recordings of events at Centennial Park. If you look closely, you can see the real Richard Jewell some of the included genuine footage... you can’t actually tell that it’s not Hauser unless you look closely, but I think its good that things like this were included because it gives a sense of truth to the film and reminds viewers that it is based on true events and that the public exposure of this investigation was a real issue.

Overall, Eastwood’s production was a joy to watch. The Centennial Park bombing was not something I was aware of (I was born the year it happened), so it was a good bit of history to learn about and the focus on the investigation of Richard Jewell was so eye-opening. There is a lot of criticism of the police force, especially the US police force, at the moment and this film really shows how members of American law enforcement can be willing to disregard procedure and evidence in desperation to pin a crime on a person. Richard Jewell also looks at the blind faith and trust people tend to have in the police department and the FBI. Richard Jewell had this type of faith and we know all too well that faith like this is sometimes misplaced. Just because an organisation is meant to protect you, it doesn’t mean that they will. Just because people are in a position of power, it does not mean they will use this power wisely or ethically. These are all big things to think about. Richard Jewell’s story is truly a incredible one, one that reminds us to fight for ourselves and to fight for the truth.

Even if you don’t think this film sounds like your cup of tea, I still say ‘watch it’ because the cast were so amazing and their performances guarantee there isn’t a single moment where the audience will feel bored.

RATING: ★★★★


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