J. Edgar

March 4, 2012

J. Edgar (2011)

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Screenplay by: Dustin Lance Black

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts

It’s never a good idea to allow a movie to be the source of one’s knowledge on any particular historical figure. Said individual will either be exalted to unrealistic levels or made to be the scum of the earth all depending on the politics and personal feelings of the director and/or writer. So knowing that the director was Clint Eastwood, who I like and trust and the writer being Dustin Lance Black, whose politics I don’t agree with and the star being Leonardo DiCaprio, who I like but again don’t agree with his politics, I wasn’t sure what I would get.

I didn’t know a lot about Hoover before the movie. I knew he was the first head to the FBI. He was the leader of the use of forensics and he was gay and dressed in women’s clothes. That’s about it. That was all covered but I also learned he was something of a social misfit, he helped organized the Library of Congress card catalog system, he was a mama’s boy, he was very driven and believed in everything he did.

The movie flashes between Hoover’s early day’s at the FBI and “current day” which is around 1972 where we see him working on his memoirs. So we see DiCaprio be young, which he has always been able to do and with the help of make up and prosthetics, an old Hoover which I thought worked pretty well. We are shown his three relationships in life are his secretary, Helen Gandy played by Naomi Watts. Judi Dench as his mother and Armie Hammer as Chuck Tolson, his right hand man and possible more.

This turned out to be a somewhat sympathetic look at the man which I wasn’t expecting. They showed his flaws but it was definitely more favorable than not. This is a good movie definitely worth your time to watch.

Pros: DiCaprio’s performance was excellent. Cons: Hammer’s “old man” makeup and acting were something to be desired.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Quote: J. Edgar Hoover: Do I kill everything that I love?

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