With Richard Jewell, the director Clint Eastwood is still making very eastwood-ian films in his late eighties. Telling a story about the wrongly accused hero, Jewell, it’s pretty straightforward and classic filmmaking condensed to two hours. The movie is carried by many great performances from both well-knowns and less-knowns even if there are some dead ends along the way.
Leading the pack is one of the less-knowns in Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) who was a massive surprise to me in his role. He wonderfully portrays Richard’s naive aspirations of protecting and serving in the beginning all the way to the scenes where the character’s beliefs are questioned. In those scenes Hauser devours the role to himself with his shifting body language and tearful stares of disbelief. He and Kathy Bates (Bobi, Richard’s mom) are a perfect match on the screen as their back-and-forth play is a delight to watch. Bates especially gets to shine in one certain scene in which she is the only one doing the talking for the first time. Sam Rockwell (Watson, Richard’s lawyer/friend) though is the scene stealer here as every time he waltzes to the room, he gives a showstopping performance.
The film in disappointing fashion doesn’t completely comply with its own teaching as it drops the ball with Olivia Wilde’s character, Kathy Scruggs. She is apparently based on a real person and the name hasn’t been changed here, therefore the way that the screenplay handles her comes off unnecessary. Scruggs’ personality has been turned into a fairytale which is in bad taste since she isn’t around to speak for herself (Scruggs died in 2001) and with Jewell, the story stays fairly truthful. This leads to those scenes to be deserving of being trash on the cutting room floor. That time would’ve been better used to look at the law enforcement’s struggles as the script seemingly only gives it just one scene and never touches it again.
Smileys: Sam Rockwell, Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates
Frowneys: Characterisation, tone
Without the exceptional cast this could’ve been real tough to get through.