Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Dustin Lance Black
As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life.
J. Edgar is one of the most powerful movies I have seen this year. It dove into the personal life of J. Edgar Hoover, during his career as the FBI director. It gave us an understanding of who is was as a person, how he was a man who lusted for power and the film strongly dealt with the acquisitions that J. Edgar Hoover was a closeted homosexual, which I learned tonight. I’m not going to lie, it threw me off when the film started dealing with these issues. Just because this was a powerful movie doesn’t make it an amazing film, don’t get me wrong it was great, but there was still a lot that went wrong in this film.
The story was told through the eyes of an older Hoover as he was retelling his life story. He was retelling his life story for his memoir that for some reason was being typed up by other FBI agents, that would rotate on this duty. I bet they didn’t have something more important to do, like stop a crime. Anyway the story would jump from present to past and it was a little confusing to pick up at first, but eventually started to make more sense.
The big story of this film is DiCaprio’s performance which of course is fantastic. He really brought Hoover to life and he is lock for a best actor nomination. Leonardo DiCaprio gave an incredibly believable performance of a man in self denial about his sexuality. Even though, Hoover’s sexuality was only speculated, J. Edgar portrayed Hoover as 100% a homosexual and this kind of inner turmoil of a closeted gay man has never been so dramatized in such detail on the big screen.
Hoover’s lover goes by the name of Clyde Tolson, which was played by Armie Hammer and he gave a spectacular performance as well. I thought he started off slow but once he was in some intimate scenes with DiCaprio, Hammer’s talents really showed. The one thing that bothered me about his character was his make up as an older man. It was absolutely horrendous and was not believable at all. You would think they would have put a little more effort into since DiCaprio’s old man suit was great.
The big reason this film was not amazing and just great was the script. It wasn’t consistent with the character, dialogue, and story structure. I have already mentioned that the story structure was a little confusing as it jumped from present to past throughout the film, and it should be noted that some of the same shots were shown twice, for what seemed like no real narrative driving reason. But the character traits and their dialogue should feel consistent in a high profile film like this one. Leonardo DiCaprio had a great accent and would sound very old fashioned but then he would say something more modern a second later.
I know I did a lot of ranting on flaws in the film but really this film is enjoyable. At a 140 minuted long it does not feel like it drags even though it is a very slow paced film. Clint Eastwood gives you a beautiful looking (besides Armie Hammer’s makeup) film that really delves into the dark secrets that Hoover hides about himself and the country. Check it out, a likely best picture nomination and a definite best actor performance.
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