The new movie “Richard Jewell”, based on the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, was a movie on my list because it was during my era. I generally remember the story unfolding all over the news and the ying and yang of the portrayal of Mr. Jewell. I was essentially going to re-educate myself on this event in this Clint Eastwood directed film.
Like in the TV show “Survivor”, i love a good blindside. I had the bar low but was stunned how engaging and well put together this movie was. Fantastically, moreso perfectly cast, led by Paul Walter Hauser (of the Tonya Harding movie fame) ripped the role of Mr. Jewell. He captured every element of this young man (in his young 30’s) of a overweight, security guard, with a kind heart and quirky sense of law enforcement and his persona. Both his passion and innocence was incredibly captured here.
3 days after being hailed as hero at the Games discovering the bomb and saving many fans in the crowd, he vilified by the media & law enforcement as the Must-Be assailant. With zippo evidence and an EZ target to be profiled as such, he is labeled the suspect as the investigation starts and ends with him. The whole country was quickly introduced to the GUILTY Mr. Jewell.
Though the media and law enforcement knew in short that he couldn’t have been the bomber, they withheld evidence and stopped investigating further hoping he would confess and case closed.
His quirky and savvy small time attorney played terrifically by Sam Rockwell and his amazing loyal loving mom played by Kathy Bates put the finishing touches a top shelf movie. The mother/son relationship is highly respectful and ought it to be revered. Loved Richard’s “goodness”.
The living horror Jewell (and his Mom) went thru being label public enemy # 1 was bullying at its worst. The audience’s genuine caring and empathy for Jewell grew every minute the movie proceeded. Folks, this “guilty until Innocent” could happen to anyone of us… and because the world is moving so fast, mistakes happen. In addition, once labeled, really really hard to “un-label”...sticks with you
No way this movie can do well in the box office because at first glance, it connects with those who recall the event which was big at the time (but not historically). Plus the event was not gruesome or history changing enough to reel in folks from other generations.
Loved that this story was brought to the big screen...hopefully we can learn lessons.