Cinema Review – J. Edgar
Leonardo DiCaprio teams up with veteran actor and director Clint Eastwood to bring us this biopic on the very man who helped to shape the FBI, but is J. Edgar as inventive as the man it depicts? Read Tom’s review to find out…
TITLE – J. EDGAR YEAR – 2011 DIRECTOR – CLINT EASTWOOD CAST – LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ARMIE HAMMER, NAOMI WATTS WRITERS – DUSTIN LANCE BLACK
Clint Eastwood is somewhat of a bonafide legend, he has been gracing our screens with his presence for over fifty years and has been working behind the camera for fourty of those, entertaining numerous generations with his meticulous approach to acting and film-making. His latest picture, J. Edgar, is a biopic based on ‘The most powerful man in the world’ as the film tagline states so succintly, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the leading role in what is his first collaboration with Eastwood.
With Hoover being such an inspirational and influential figure in American history, Eastwood and his writer Dustin Black (who won an Oscar for his work on Milk) seem to have struggled to focus their attention on specific parts of his life and attempt to encompass far too much of his long and prosperous career into the film. At times I felt like I was watching a strange version of The Curious case of Benjamin Button, where Hoover aged or got younger at random intervals due to the questionable techniques that Eastwood employed for the story’s flashbacks, and despite a relatively long running time, by the end of the film I was unable to empathise with any of the characters.
For those unversed in modern American history, J. Edgar Hoover is the man responsible for the inception of the FBI and he pioneered a number of crime-fighting techniques that were far ahead of their time. This should of course have led to some very exciting moments but aside from a few scenes where Hoover and his team encounter criminals, we see more action when The Public Enemy (1935) trailer is shown during a scene in the theatre.
Naomi Watts is included as a minor love interest until Hoover’s sexual orientation becomes questionable, but she fades into the background for the majority of the film which is a shame considering her talent. Hoover’s sexuality and the scenes relating to it will undoubtedly be the talking point for a large proportion of viewers, and there are times when it appears that Dustin Black has forgotten he was not writing Milk 2. Eastwood portrays this side of Hoover’s life respectfully though, and it does lead to a few touching moments near to the end of the film, as well as an upsetting scene with a certain family member.
Fresh from his breakout role in The Social Network, Armie Hammer comes along for the ride as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s right-hand man (and love interest) who is charged with keeping the FBI director in check throughout the majority of his impressive career. Laughable prosphetics aside, Hammer proves his worth as an up and coming star with some incredibly powerful scenes that almost steal the limelight from Dicaprio’s performance, who tends to rely far too much on raising his eyebrows to convey the majority of Hoover’s emotions.
J. Edgar is far from a bad film, and if an up and coming director had helmed the picture, I’m sure it would be recognised as a worthwhile entry in their canon but coming from Eastwood it is somewhat of a disappointment. His career seems to be waning lately and as much as I respect the man and his incredible contributions to cinema I am concerned that Eastwood has had his day. This is watchable but forgettable fare, although those with a genuine interest in Hoover may be able to see past the films flaws.
[starreview tpl=16 size='30']
J. EDGAR IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN THE UK ON 20TH JANUARY 2011
Do you think that Eastwood should call it a day or is there still life in him yet? Let me know your thoughts below…