Richard Jewell offers audiences one of the more gripping looks at sensationalism and what is deemed now as “fake news.” It’s easy to dismiss a narrative like just a well written Hollywood creation, but the idea that this occurred makes it in some respects a horror film. The idea of one thought or even the appearance of another could snowball into a whole country condemning another seems very foreign (but it happened right here in the good ole USA). Part of the genius of Eastwood’s latest project and Billy Ray’s narrative was the focus of Richard Jewell. The film is much more about the mechanisms which drive media and the power of perception. Atlanta wasn’t fully prepared for the scale of hosting an Olympics, and the response following a bomb going off in Centennial Park shows this. The public demanded answers, FBI officials felt the pressure and journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) pointed the world in Jewell’s direction.
What everyone will be discussing after seeing Richard Jewell is the performances of Kathy Bates and Paul W Hauser. Bates is near perfect as Jewell’s mother Bobi while Hauser is flawless in the title role. This really shouldn’t come as a massive shock to anyone who has looked at his body of work (especially I Tonya). Hauser’s performance is the textbook definition of a breakout. The veteran actor shows how Jewell’s naive nature and a deep-rooted belief in doing what’s right at times made matters worse for him. If only the community, the authorities, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had felt the same way.
Overall, Richard Jewell is a fantastic film and a stark reminder of the dangers of rushing to judgment. Some might see it as a condemnation of the media, but it’s more an honest look at a few individuals who crafted a false narrative for the world to consume.