Clint Eastwood's new biopic Richard Jewell tells the story of—you guessed it—Richard Jewell, the security guard who discovered a backpack filled with three pipe bombs at Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Jewell, who first alerted the police and helped to partially evacuate the area before the bombs exploded was initially lauded as a national hero and later considered the prime suspect, suffering a grueling trial by media until he was ultimately cleared 88 days later.
Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya), who bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Jewell, does a fantastic job as the awkward and endearing underdog who loves his mama (Kathy Bates) and who just wants to do his job; "I believe in protecting people," he says; Jewell is only guilty of being naïve and it's up to his disgruntled, baseball hat and cargo short wearing lawyer, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) to repeatedly remind him that the FBI agents ransacking his house for evidence are not his friends but "jackals looking to eat him alive."
In the film, the real crime is committed by Kathy Scrugg (Olivia Wilde) a journalist from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who trades sex with FBI agent Tom Shaw (John Hamm) for the scoop on their prime suspect and publishes a story pinning Jewell as the bomber. Agent Shaw protests a little: "what makes you think you can fuck it out of me?," but in the end he's no match for Scrugg and her low-cut silk blouse.
Maybe no one reminded Old Man Eastwood what decade we live in but the female-journalist-who-uses-sex-for-a-story trope just doesn't work anymore. In fact, it never did. While the Atlanta Journal-Constitution deserves to be held accountable for their misrepresentation of an innocent man, slut-shaming certainly isn't the way to go about it. Unfortunately, this gross display of misogyny clouds the entire film and cheapens the gravity of Jewell's story.
I think Eastwood would like to go back to a simpler time, like 1996, when people danced in unison to "The Macarena" and sexism went unchecked.
+Important story; great performances
-Misogyny; cheap move
Directed by Eastwood
With Hauser, Wilde and Rockwell
Regal 14, Violet Crown, R, 129 minutes