Richard jewell (Clint Eastwood, 2019)

Reviewed by Gabriel Gottardi. Viewed at the 2019 AFI Fest.

What is the concept of a hero? A hero is a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character. After great movies, for example, American Sniper and Sully, movies that represent what it is like to be a hero and its consequences. Clint Eastwood’s latest film is a biopic of a hero that we might not deserve, but clearly, the one we need.

Based on the article written by Marie Binner, the film starts in 1986 as Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) works in a small office. Without any tricky, Eastwood introduces him as a character that even though he likes to make things right, Jewell is far from perfection- just like any human. Jewell ends up meeting with Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), who is an attorney at the office. Once again, the director, without wasting much time, creates bonds in their relationships, as Jewell tells Bryant that he is leaving the office because he wants to be a guard and do the right thing.

Ten years later, after he left the office. Jewell lives with his mom, Bobi Jewell (Kathy Bates), in Atlanta, where the Olympic Games are occurring, and Jewell is working as a security guard at a party event. Eastwood’s direction is precise to create a tense and thrilling sequence, which Jewell ends up finding a bomb and preventing a lot of people from dying. Jewells is named a hero; after all, he was the one who found the bomb. However, humans as flaws as we are, we need to blame someone. As Jewell started to be the hero, he finds himself after false allegations that he is the one who planted the bomb. Thanks to the FBI agent, Tom Shaw (John Hamm), who leaked false claims of Jewell to the media, mostly represented by Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), who, without questions, publish an article the next morning saying that Jewell is the one set the bomb.

Houser, who did an excellent job two years ago in the movie I, Tonya, does an even better job as Jewell. A man who just wanted to do the right thing, because of his innocence and humankind. His kindness and willingness to help can make you uncomfortable as the whole world is against him, thanks to a manipulative media. Rockwell, who plays his attorney, suffers from his innocence, as he tries to help Houser’s character. But, it is Houser’s mom, Bobi, who suffers the most, as Bates delivers a powerful performance of a mom who sees her son being a hero to a villain overnight. And she resonates and experiences from her son’s chargers and accusations.

The film that could have been a 2-hours-story bashing the media does not focus only on it. The story does critique the media and the way reporters conduct their work, as they try to find someone to create a story. But this is a Richard Jewell story. The script makes it right in creating this incredible story of a real hero and makes us realize that they are still good people around the world who are trying to get things right

Eastwood’s latest movie is one of his best biopics, and movies in his impressive career. Different from his previous biopics, Houser portrays a character that suffers from his innocence as the FBI, and reporters try to sabotage the story of a hero. It is a story about innocence and humankind. It will make you uncomfortable to see how people try to find flaws to create a narrative in favor of their own. But Eastwood tells the story of a hero in the right way, compared to the ones who told his story years ago.

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