Movie Review: J. Edgar

Posted: November 13, 2011 in movie reviews, movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I imagine there were many skeptics about Leonardo DiCaprio’s ability to portray the conflicted and controversial man J. Edgar Hoover, however within the first moments of the movie, it’s hard to picture anyone else being able to do the wonderful job DiCaprio did.

J. Edgar

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench

Premise: This movie chronicles the life and career of the controversial J. Edgar Hoover, director of what would eventually be known as the FBI. The narrative follows three timelines, Hoover building the bureau from the ground up, Hoover’s slow deterioration into a paranoid, power hungry, often disliked political figure using his “secret files” on to get what he wants, all intercut with the end of Hoover’s career when he takes to writing his memoir and alienating those closes to him. Directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar has his style all over it, but one thing Clint Eastwood always does well is bring out fantastic performances by his leads.

Review: Hoover was a man who cared about his appearance. He was raised by a strict and conservative mother, taught to carry himself properly and speak eloquently. He was often unkind and he spoke with brutal honesty. He was desperate to be seen as the best. Hoover’s story is filled with controversy, secrets, black mailing, and wiretaps. Really there’s no reason why we should like this guy. However, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black manages to expose and develop all layers of this complex man from his relationship with his most trusted companions, right hand man, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts).

Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance as J. Edgar Hoover was nothing short of amazing. Leo’s roles are usually more glitzy and glamorous, Inception, The Departed, Shutter Island, Revolutionary Road. He often plays the handsome, dashing male lead. However, with the help of some very good prosthetic make-up and the direction of Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio was transported into J. Edgar and he submerged himself equally. He was mesmerizing to watch and I invested myself fully in the character. Sometimes I liked him, most of the times I hate him, but I did see the humanity in Hoover, thanks wholly in part to his partnership and relationship with Clyde Tolson.

Leonardo DiCaprio Star as J. Edgar

Clyde brought out the best in Hoover, whether he knew it or not. And Armie Hammer also seemed to bring out the best in DiCaprio. I knew Leo would be amazing. He is a fantastic, compelling actor. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Hammer. This was my first time seeing him since Social Network, and he was heartbreaking in his role as Hoover’s Tolson, his co-worker, best friend, and assumed lover. Though his aging make-up was not as convincing as DiCaprio’s, his performance as an older deteriorating Tolson was practically a scene stealer. Both men were absolutely magic when on screen together.

Their last two scenes together in the movie are heartbreaking. Tolson stayed by Hoover’s side till the end, loving Hoover in a way that Hoover never could show. In their last conversation, Hoover told Tolson that he never should have hired him. Though an awful thing to say to the one you love, I understood Hoover and instead of hating the man, I just thought to myself, “Grandpa! Don’t say that. This man loves you and you love him.” Hoover did love him in many ways, thus he was able to say what he felt, and Tolson was able to understand what he meant. When Hoover revealed his true thoughts my heart broke for the two of them. It was a fantastic moment, and just one of many in the entire movie.

When the movie ended, I felt sad, yet satisfied. I just watched an engrossing movie, with fantastic actors, which left me feeling a myriad of emotions. A girl in front of me said loudly to her friends, “It was kind of boring” and I couldn’t help thinking, this girl is CRAZY! I admit, movies like this aren’t for everyone, I admit it, and she’s entitled to her opinion. But if you find a movie like this boring, then you’re not watching the right movie. If you found this movie boring, you should stick to Twilight and Puss In Boots, but if you want character, story, action, love, love loss, secret, lies, scandal, Armie Hammer, and Leonardo DiCaprio, then this movie is for you.

Rating: 4 Stars. 


Random Thoughts:

  • Leo better get an Oscar nomination for this.
  • Leo with brown eyes is quite unsettling.
  • Look out for familiar TV and movie faces. They come often and quickly.
  1. yaykisspurr says:

    Hey! thanks for reviewing this movie….I saw it on the roster and thought geeze, not interested….but I love movies that when you walk out of them you feel like you met a real person and got a glimpse of their life…..I might very well go see this movie now.

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