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62, Richard Jewell; movie review

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Title : 62, Richard Jewell; movie review
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Cert 15
131 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language

"Does stuff like this really happen?"
As the credits rolled on Clint Eastwood's reflection of the harrowing case of Richard Jewell, Mrs W asked the question which must be on the lips of everyone who sees the movie.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Law enforcement agencies sometimes have their heads turned so much towards a particular suspect that they ignore all the evidence which is being presented to them.
Jewell's case is ghastly but not even as terrible as that of Walter McMillan who was put on death row for a crime he didn't commit.
McMillan's case is highlighted in the astonishing Just Mercy which was released at cinemas last month.
It is a notch above Richard Jewell in quality and yet Eastwood's film has earned an Oscar nomination for Kathy Bates. That just about sums up how wrong the Academy judges have called it this year.
Bates does a decent but not outstanding job portraying Jewell's mum in their 88 days of hell following the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing in 1996.
Much more memorable is Paul Walter Hauser who plays the title character with an absolutely perfect but unusual mix of creepy, naive, and good-hearted.
His awkwardness leads him to be seen as an oddball and, consequently the FBI's chief terrorist suspect despite initially being hailed a hero for alerting law enforcement to the bomb's suspicious bag.
He and his mother's lives become a trainwreck under the glare of the FBI, led by a one-dimensional officer (Jon Hamm) and a moral-free local newspaper reporter, Kathy Scruggs, (Olivia Wilde).
The latter's portrayal has courted considerable controversy, particularly in Atlanta where Scruggs worked.
Apparently, Scruggs was a tough, hard-hitting and rebellious journalist but her family and colleagues are outraged by the suggestion that she slept with contacts in exchange for information.
Eastwood's film doesn't show her in bed but its implication is clear - journalists, and particularly women journalists, will do anything for a story.
It is a row which has detracted from the main focus of the movie and is a giant slight on the women who have made their mark in a hard industry.
I digress.
Richard Jewell had both Mrs W and I engaged but not as enthralled as we had expected. Tears certainly were not welling as they had been with Just Mercy.
Is that because Jewell was so awkward that a cinema audience cannot fully empathise with him, is it because Sam Rockwell is unnecessarily cocky as his lawyer or that Hamm and Wilde play stereotypes?
It is probably a combination of all of the above.
This is, however, a story which is very much worth telling and seeing and, while it is not a challenger for the top movie of the year, still has enough very good moments.

Reasons to watch: Fascinating true story
Reasons to avoid: Doesn't quite grab as much as it might

Laughs: Two
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? Richard Jewell sued NBC, CNN and the New York Post, settling with each for undisclosed amounts. In all, it is believed that he received more than $2 million dollars in settlements.

The final word. Paul Walter Hauser: "I think that this is a victory lap for the Jewell family, as much as they can have without Richard here with them." ABC News

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