January 29, 2012
I have heard several bad reviews about "J. Edgar". It had also been roundly snubbed at the recent Oscar nomination announcement -- no nomination for Best Picture, Director, Actor nor Screenplay. I am not exactly a fan of Clint Eastwood as a director as he tends to make overlong melodramatic movies, like "Changeling" or "Million Dollar Baby." I am though a fan of biographical films, so despite all the prior "warnings," I still went on to watch it.
You know what? It is not all that bad after all. It was actually a very good overview of who J. Edgar Hoover was, a man who led the FBI for almost 50 years. We get a glimpse of his similarly controversial private life as a old bachelor who lived with his mother (Judi Dench). Furthermore we also get to meet Hoover's constant aide and companion Clyde Tolson (Arnie Hammer). I thought it was pretty fair and interesting summary of this prominent man's life and career, although you know they were just skimming off the surface of a thicker brew.
Leonardo diCaprio did very well in the lead role. I admit it is not too easy to get rid of his star appearance, even behind his make-up, but I say he pulled this off. Arnie Hammer played Tolson very well as a young man. But as Tolson aged, with the ugly old man make-up, so does Hammer's performance falter. Clint Eastwood does a very good job in psychoanalyzing the driving force behind this powerful man. Dustin Lance Black (who won the Oscar for the Screenplay of "Milk") wrote this story with obvious homosexual undertones. I do think though that this film is worth the time to watch to get to know J. Edgar Hoover a little better. I think this film should have gained at least one Oscar nomination, and that is for Best Actor. Leonardo diCaprio deserves at least that.