The film is a bio pick about one of the most controversial figures in American history, J. Edgar Hoover! Hoover was for over 50 years the head of the FBI and became one of the most powerful men in the country. Even presidents were fearful of him because of the way he would gather information on them to use it against them.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, ‘J. Edgar’ is a look at the life, times and death of the man. The main story is told cleverly as he tells his own embellished tale to a series of ghost writers who are putting together his autobiography. Here we see how the public perception and reality were not on the same page.
Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant as Hoover, young and old! He plays a man with so many demons brilliantly. There are moments that you even start to justify his methods thanks to DiCaprio’s performance! There should be at least an Oscar nomination here for Leo.
Josh Hamilton played Hoover’s lifelong companion Robert Irwin so convincingly and commanded most of the scenes he was in. Naomi Watts was a great cast as one of the most important women in his live, Helen Gandy. But the biggest scene stealer was Judi Dench who played Hoover’s mother. Dench showed where the majority of her sons drive, neurosis and perfectionism came from.
As you see in the film Hoover did so much to help the nation (forensics lab, law enforcement using guns, impeccable record keeping to name a few), but his complete lack of respect for the presidents he served under (of any party) and tried to destroy people like Dr. Martin Luther King and a first lady or two.
The only problem I had was the constant jumping around that Eastwood used to tell the story from different times. It became distracting at times and hard to follow, but everything else he did was top notch.
A few things I should point out that really made this film brilliant! DiCaprio was able to go from good looking guy to clumpy, large, awkward man and still turn in a stirring performance. I like how there was an equal mix of good and bad. Considering this guy wasn’t a good human being, he loved his country and for the most part thought he was doing right! And despite his personal life (possibly homosexual, rumored cross dresser and suspected drug addict), these were not sensationalized to make the film more exciting. They were there to help paint the picture of a troubled man.
If you’re looking for action, don’t see this one. It is definitely a very slow paced film, but this is what I expected and liked about it.
Matman (and Mrs. Matman) Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Secrets