From hero to enemy of the state in less than 24 hours: In his drama based on true events THE RICHARD JEWELL Director Clint Eastwood describes the fate of a man who was unfairly targeted by the FBI. The result is remarkable. We reveal more about this in our review.
Attorney Bryant does everything he can to protect his client.
The plot summary
“There’s a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes.” In 1996, the world learned for the first time about security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser), who reported finding the detonator during a bombing at a concert in Atlanta – his description made him a hero, because his quick action has saved countless lives. But just a few days later, his life takes a complete turn: the would-be law enforcement officer becomes the FBI’s prime suspect, vilified by the press and the public alike. Unwavering in his innocence, Jewell seeks help from independent anti-establishment lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell). But Bryant is no match for the combined might of the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta Police Department to clear his client’s name while simultaneously stopping Richard from trusting people who want to destroy him.
Movie meaning of ending
Clint Eastwood’s last films have always been controversial. Certainly also because he has never publicly made a secret of his Republican sentiments, with which he is obviously only one step away from publicly expressing sympathy for Donald Trump. His last directorial work “The Mule” also underlined this; a road movie that, when dealing with African-Americans and homosexuals, often balanced uncomfortably on the border between the greatest possible naivety, bad taste and eternally yesterday’s political views. His war drama “American Sniper” received much more applause from the “wrong side” – certainly due to its greater popularity. After all, not everyone at home reflects on the Bradley Cooper vehicle as much as would be appropriate in order to classify the thinking of the more than dubious hero accordingly. “The Richard Jewell Case,” which is based on true events, also sparked controversy shortly after its first screenings. At the center: the character of journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), who author Billy Ray (“Gemini Man”) and director Eastwood draw as a sexy, hysterical caricature of a reporter who sometimes seduces an FBI agent for a good story . It is now known that although the character herself existed, the often talked about sex between her and Agent Shaw (Jon Hamm) never took place. Even if you ask yourself a little what the US journalists, who were so outraged by this scene, actually wanted to have seen, because there is no sex scene in the film and the hint of it is extremely vague.
The lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) accompanies Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) to a newspaper office.
Nevertheless, the character of Kathy Scruggs is definitely the most controversial element in the film. When, shortly after the bombing, she expresses the hope that the attacker would please be “an interesting personality” so that she can end up with the most exciting article possible from this tragedy, then that is Olivia Wilde’s (“ Every Year Again – Christmas With The Coopers”) , always very affectedly embodied young woman, is adequately characterized in just one sentence. As she continues, she underlines her obviously caricatured character with her dubious research methods, for example by secretly hiding in the defendant’s lawyer’s car. And yet the whole story surrounding Richard Jewell, who was caught in the crossfire of the media, develops in such a way that Scruggs no longer seems so exaggerated over time. Instead, everything that the media has been doing to their apparently found victim for many weeks seems to be manifested in her character. Scruggs begins with the supposed revelation story that Jewell himself is the main suspect and thus triggers a pyramid system of false reports and conjectures that answers the question of guilt on behalf of American society (and ultimately somehow also for the FBI). serious investigations even take place. And although the motif of the lovely reporter has long been overused (as if journalists just had to show off their sex appeal instead of researching like everyone else), the thoroughly caustic character of Kathy Scruggs is still one of the most important here.
Even more important than Scruggs, who tragically died of a drug overdose in 2001, is of course Richard Jewell himself, whose fate (which is made even more tragic by the text at the end of the film, as the man died of a heart attack a few years after the events is – at just 44 years old!) dominated the media in the USA for weeks. The actor Paul Walter Hauser (“I, Tonya”), who is still largely unknown in this country , embodies Richard Jewell, who was laughed at by society, later celebrated for a short time and then despised again, so congenially that people are talking about his transition to the Oscars. can only shake his head at the 2020 awards ceremony; Kathy Bates (“The Calling – Fight for Justice”), the only person nominated for this film , is the only one in the “Richard Jewell” ensemble who doesn’t necessarily stand out in a positive way, but simply plays the desperate mother solidly. Hauser, on the other hand, puts his heart and soul into the Richard Jewell character, who at first glance seems so shady, and oscillates completely authentically between self-pity, unpleasant desires for power (How dangerous is it when someone who has been rejected by the police is suddenly allowed to hire himself out armed as a security guard?) and a fate-stricken loner who has no social contacts due to his stature and unkempt appearance and who, out of insecurity, takes refuge in love of arms and patriotism. As is typical of Eastwood, it is ultimately above all the unconditional, naive belief in the rule of law that makes the character of Richard Jewell truly tragic: when the FBI carries out unauthorized interviews and exploits this naivety against Jewell, you only really become aware of it , how much Jewell has maneuvered himself into his victim status, after all, investigators and the press mainly benefit from the fact that Jewell never really defends himself and stands up for himself, but simply relies on the fact that in the end it will somehow be good for him will go out on him – he is innocent.
When Richard Jewell’s stoic attitude finally meets the ambitious lawyer Watson Bryant (and, as usual, brilliantly portrayed by “Three Billboards” actor Sam Rockwell), there are not only a few surprisingly amusing moments; for example, when Jewell constantly ignores Bryant’s instructions not to talk to the FBI agents. It also becomes an intimate study of how two fundamentally different people with completely different character traits can fight for one and the same cause. Jewell quietly as a US citizen who trusts in the system, Bryant as a kind of rebellious rebel who clearly notices that the very system is unscrupulously exploiting his client’s faith. Only Kathy Bates, who is also unusually pale in terms of acting, seems like a stereotype in her role as a mother who desperately believes in the innocence of her offspring, which just has to appear in such films in order to stir up even more pity for the already pitiful Richard Jewell. That is the main aspect that “The Richard Jewell Case” can be criticized for. Although it would of course be completely opposite to the film’s message to stir up uncertainty as to Jewell’s actual innocence for suspense reasons – especially since, at least in the USA, everyone knows the outcome of the investigation – Eastwood is all too quick to sweep questionable aspects of the story under the carpet. The suspect’s huge arsenal of weapons is only good for a quick laugh, but of course has no intention of criticizing the gun laws in the USA. Eastwood simply stages the media hunt for Jewell far too simply and precisely for that, so that in the end – and rightly so – the sole focus here is how unscrupulously the media destroyed a human life here many years ago.
Conclusion: “The Richard Jewell” is a calm study of a media hunt at the end of which there are no winners. Great actors and precise staging can hide small flaws.
“The Richard Jewell” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from March 19th.