Acclaimed actor Leonardo DiCaprio stars in Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood's richly detailed biopic exploring the life and career of controversial FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. For nearly 50 years, Hoover (DiCaprio) fought crime as one of the most powerful law enforcers in America. During Hoover's extended stint as Director of the FBI, however, his penchant for bending the law in the name of seeking justice and using the secrets of high profile leaders to gain personal leverage won him just as many supporters as detractors. Little did many other than his loyal colleague Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and faithful secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) know, however, that Hoover himself was a man with many secrets to hide. Josh Lucas, Judi Dench, and Stephen Root co-star in film written by Oscar-winning Milk scribe Dustin Lance Black. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench
Release Date: Nov 09, 2011
Rated R for brief strong language
Runtime: 2 hr. 17 min.
Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar is a solid biopic even if it occasionally turns into a chore to watch as it slowly recounts the highlights of Hoover’s life. Eastwood work on screen is precise and deliberate but surprisingly detached as well. Usually Eastwood has a strong emotional connection with his subject matter but it’s strangely missing here. What he delivers is a slightly unfocused hodgepodge of snippets from Hoover’s life, bouncing around from the past to the present, not always with a clear purpose. The script comes off as more informational than thought out; the main characters are fleshed out but only to a certain degree. The audience is kept at arms length for the most part; a few scenes allow us into Hoover’s psyche a bit more but not enough. In the titular role Leonardo DiCaprio is impressive, working a strong accent throughout, breaking out of his traditional mold. His performance showcases the massive contradictions of the man and he tries to give us as many layers as possible. A well groomed Armie Hammer is the film’s heart and soul. It’s a shame the script doesn’t allow him to do more because I’m sure he could have really expanded on this role if he’d been allowed to. His and DiCaprio’s interactions lay the ground work for so much of the inner turmoil that Hoover experience, one can’t help but feel that it could have been explored more thoughtfully. Naomi Watts is left on the sidelines for the most part, more of a spectator than an actual player in the grand scheme of things. The real crime is that her character, especially in the final years of Hoover’s life, seemed fertile for exploration. Since this is one of those films that travels across nearly half a century, heavy make up and prosthetics play a prominent role. DiCaprio and Watts seem to have the best luck with the make with poor Armie left with some the looks like a bad burn victim with liver spots. As a whole J. Edgar engages but lacks the emotional punch you’d expect.
Bluray quality; Video is excellent really showcasing the muted visual tone of the film; Sound is basic with very little flair to make it stand out.
I was hand-selected to be a member of Blu-ray Elite, a beta program from Warner Home Video which has graciously sent me this free Blu-ray disc.