Movie Review ‘J. Edgar,’ Starring Leonardo DiCaprio – There are few directors in Hollywood with the star power and talent of Clint Eastwood. While his accomplishments as an actor are legendary Eastwood has transformed himself into one of the finest filmmakers in the world. His style is understated and elegant, offering just enough to keep an audience involved but not so much that it becomes redundant or boring. His latest film, J. Edgar, is a biographical look at one of the most important figures of the 20th Century in the United States.
The follows the life of J. Edgar Hoover from as his career develops during some of the countries most infamous periods such as the Bolshevik terrorists, the rise of depression-era gangsters, the Lindbergh kidnapping through the Civil Rights era. Along the way we see his personal relationships with Helen Gandy (Watts) and Clyde Tolson (Hammer) develop and evolve.
Eastwood takes a nonlinear approach to Hoover’s life shifting from his early days in the Bureau of Investigation to his later years as one of the most powerful men in the country as the first Director of the FBI. The narrative is split not only into different time periods but different areas of Hoover’s life, intertwining his personal life with his professional zeal and public persona. The film doesn’t follow a particular plot line. Instead Eastwood presents different scenes from Hoover’s life and shows how his experiences helped shape him.
Eastwood’s intent is not to indulge the audience in the salaciousness of Hoover’s secret files. Instead he chooses to show Hoover as a flawed man with skewed ideals. This vision is bolstered by DiCaprio’s fine performance as the venerable G-Man in which he plays up the character’s ambitions while subtlety exposes his insecurities. Hammer does an adequate job as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s right hand man and implied lover. Naomi Watts is stellar as Helen Gandy, Hoover’s long time assistant.
Eastwood has crafted a well-paced and engrossing feature that will be enjoyed by audiences with more sophisticated tastes. The narrative is at times clunky and the less-than-stellar makeup can be distracting. However, the film rises above those limitations and is sure to be well-mentioned come awards season. Highly recommended.