Language - English
Genre - Drama, Biopic
**ing - Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts
Release - 2011
Clint Eastwood's epic historical biopic about the legendary Director of FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, arrived on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, and has re-ignited the debate about J. Edgar and Di Caprio's Oscar snub. J. Edgar has epic written all over it. Based on Edgar's 48-year reign as director of FBI and it's predecessor, Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar features a towering performance by Leonardo Di Caprio under the watchful directorial gaze of legendary Clint Eastwood. But as you watch this 137 mins biopic, it just doesn't 'feel' epic.
J. Edgar Hoover was one of the most enigmatic and powerful figures of 20th Century, and this is Eastwood's definitive biography of the legend covering his ascent to power during the Red Scare of 1919, to his demise in 1972. Judi Dench plays the over-protective mother Anne Marie Hoover, and Naomi Watts puts in a excellently restrained performance as Helen Gandy, Edgar's personal secretary for his entire career and trusted confidante, better known for the role she played in destroying incriminating files on powerful figures that Edgar used for his power plays.
J. Edgar also insinuates on the closeted homosexuality of the man. His relationship with his protégé Clyde Tolson, played by Armie Hammer, is handled delicately. The screenplay by Dustin Lance Black creates a enigmatic personality with unflinching patriotism, conviction to always be a step ahead of the criminals with the push for forensic science such as fingerprinting, staunch resolve against communistic ideologies, but also of megalomaniacal tendencies often resorting to black-mailing and threatening politicians and colleagues.
Despite the great performances, especially by Di Caprio that often hints at the legend behind the man than the man himself, and a taut screenplay, J. Edgar fails to really engage you emotionally. It's often too busy with the Lindbergh kidnapping incident or the fight against the gangsters during the prohibition era and great depression, with an abrupt insight into the sexual frustrations of the man. J. Edgar is an extremely fine film, and also an entertaining affair, but it seems to be too caught up with the events of the story, than the story itself, under-achieving it's true potential.