Big story gets small treatment…

There’s so much we don’t know about Richard Jewell’s inner torment. We do know that he was a security guard wrongfully accused of planting a bomb in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 summer games. And in the weeks following the deadly bombing, the nation watched in horror as the injustice played out in the early years of the hungry 24-hour cable news cycle. The story lingered for some time after that, as civil suits winded their way through the courts. For Jewell and his mother Bobi, it was a nightmare that extended for years.

It would be cynical to say that finding the explosive device was the best thing that happened to the humble, struggling Jewell. The reality was that the infamy in the aftermath was the worst thing that could have happened to anyone. In America, being accused of a crime is often all that’s needed. The stain of the charge alone tarnishes a person forever.

So, it’s against the backdrop of this real-world event that director Clint Eastwood plies his workmanlike trade. The screenplay, adapted by Oscar-nominated writer Billy Ray, is ideally suited to Eastwood’s restrained hand. And here, instead of focusing on the sensationalism surrounding the bombing and the investigation, the Eastwood/Ray combination spends an inordinate amount of time cooped up in a tiny apartment with Jewell, Bobi, and his hapless, in-over-his-head lawyer Watson Bryant. It’s a small movie about a big moment in history.

Read Jonathan’s full review online and in print in the Times-Herald:

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