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.
From director Clint Eastwood(Hereafter, Invictus) and written by Dustin Lance Black who wrote the Academy Award winning screenplay for “Milk” back in 2009 comes the story of J.Edgar Hoover. Biopics have always been one of my favorite film genre’s to watch, it’s especially great when I have no idea of the backstory or even the history of who the biopic is about, I didn’t know much about J.Edgar walking into the cinema except for the fact he was the guy who created the FBI.
Because the film panned across Hoovers entire life the casting choice was an interesting one, Leonardo DiCaprio was picked to play basically the most powerful man in America for a good 60 years, I had my reservations to start off with, I honestly didn’t think Leo could pull it off, but seemingly to me I know nothing! Leo nailed the role from start to finish. Armie Hammer who we saw in ‘The Social Network’ played Hoover’s confidante in life and supposed “partner” Clyde Tolson, he also did extremely well in the role, but as the years went by and the makeup got older and older at a couple of points I did have a little chuckle because Hammer is a good looking man and it just didn’t do him any justice. Naomi Watts also got the old age makeup slapped on in the role of Helen Gandy, Edgar’s Secretary at the FBI for 54 years; I think a movie based around her would have definitely been an eye opener. Watt’s pulled off a exceptional performance as Gandy but I would have liked to have seen a good deal more of the relationship between her and Hoover.
The primary focus of the film is Hoover and Tolson’s relationship, which by all the research I have done none has come back as fact and basically it was all hearsay, but they spent a lot of time together so who knows what went on behind closed doors, DiCaprio and Hammer did extremely well playing off each other in these scenes especially one when an argument ensues.
Eastwood once again manages to shoot an incredible looking film, but it’s really hard to say what I didn’t like about the film, it’s a ‘good’ film not a great one. It somewhat felt forced and they he was trying too hard to make it an ‘epic masterpiece’ when in fact maybe he should have focused on a certain period in Hoover’s life and not the entirety and in parts it made Hoover look incompetent and a mummy’s boy well Hoover did live with her for 43 years so in a way that might be true but even still, maybe Eastwood reached too far with this one?
As a fan of Biopic’s I really did enjoy this film, it was a great insight to an extremely powerful man but it was just missing something…
J Edgar is in cinemas now I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars.
You can see the trailer here.