starring Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Paul Walter Hauser
written by Billy Ray, based on the article "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell" by Marie Brenner
directed by Clint Eastwood
by Angelo Muredda You'd be hard-pressed to think of a more fateful intersection between director and biographical subject than Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell, which crystallizes the venerable American filmmaker's aesthetic and thematic interests of late. The infamous minimalist and chair-scolder--hyped to godly proportions in some corners of Film Twitter for his cool efficiency, scorned as a conservative propagandist by others--has been charged since the film's AFI Fest debut last month with cranking out ill-timed "Trumpian talking points" about the FBI and smearing a journalist's good name after her death. While some of the callouts are fairer than others, the uproar has distracted from the quiet dignity and formal strangeness of the work, which deepens Eastwood's recent interest in unlikely American newsmakers with asterisks beside their names and their acts of heroism by grounding itself in the awkward humanity of an even less immediately palatable figure than the inarticulate, gelato-eating Euro travellers who saved lives in The 15:17 to Paris.