>> J. Edgar (2011)

Title: J. Edgar

Genre: Drama

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench

Director: Clint Eastwood

Studio: Warner Bros.

Runtime: 137 minuntes

In Theatres: November 11, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Rating: 3.17 (out of 4.00)

Grade: B

Official Site

J. Edgar Hoover is considered an American icon. As the founding director of the FBI, Hoover revolutionized the way the government handled federal crimes and is responsible for numerous arrests and high profile cases. Still, like all people, he had his fair share of secrets and controversy.

Director Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) is one you don’t typically see in films. J. Edgar depicts his rise in popularity and power among the government as he heads the FBI and struggle to rid the Unites States of Communists, radicals, and all other threats, both foreign and domestic. The film also brings to light his questionable tactics at achieving his goal and also reveals his rumored romance with his Associate Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). Whether you claim to be an expert on all things Hoover or know absolutely nothing about the man, there’s something to take away from the film.

The meat of the J. Edgar follows Hoover’s quest for power and glory. This is a man who collects dirt on all of the presidents, just so he can keep them from firing him. This is a man who will go to any length necessary to squash a threat, even if it means illegally deporting someone. According to the film, this is also a man who was secretly gay and enjoyed dressing in women’s clothing as well. Whether that’s true or not has yet to be determined. Regardless, Hoover was clearly quite the character, and the film captures every moment of it.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the big man himself and does a fine job at portraying his sometimes menacing demeanor along with all his minuscule quirks. The film likes to jump around time periods, beginning with Hoover later in his life as he dictates his memoirs, recalling past experiences with the FBI. Because of this, many of the main actors are forced to wear heavy amounts of makeup to make them appear older. It’s overkill with everyone aside from Naomi Watts. Both DiCapio and Hammer look like they’re wearing a mask out of The Town rather than a biographical drama. Much of the film takes place in flashbacks, though, so it’s not too distracting.

J. Edgar successfully showcases the interesting character Hoover was. It’ll no doubt sit well with history buffs, but as for general audiences, they may find a difficult time staying compelled. At over two hours in length, it can be a little long, with long periods of downtime in between the dramatic moments. Still, Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a noteworthy performance that’s taken right out of the history books.

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