Plot – J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful head of the F.B.I. for nearly fifty years, looks back on his professional and personal life – J. Edgar.
Director – Clint Eastwood
Released – 2011
J. Edgar has its flaws, be sure, but on the whole, the film is a success at crafting an engaging character study of one America’s most divisive and powerful figures of the last century; J. Edgar Hoover, who devoted his life to stopping the “Bolshevik menace” from finding a foothold in his homeland in a way that was both heavy-handed and, as we later find out, extremely hypocritical.
What’s most interesting to see is how matter-of-fact Eastwood was about Hoover, showing him to be a deeply flawed man with a lot of demons, but also with a fiery passion and a belief that what he was doing was for the best. Mostly showing any moments where Hoover is portrayed as heroic as in his own eyes only, while also doing exceptionally at exploring why he was this American hero and the good that he did for a country that’s always in danger of ripping itself apart.
Excelling in films such as Blood Diamond and Inception, I believe DiCaprio has earned the right in for us to consider him one of the Hollywood greats. Clearly unafraid to take on a difficult role and truly challenge himself is clear in the roles he takes and once again he puts in a complex and worthy performance. Giving life to a character that to the outside world is the pinnacle of strength, yet underneath is a man who is completely insecure and incapable to be his true self. A deeply closeted homosexual. An element that the film handles rather well, only hinting at much he subsumed to his desires and the relationship he had with second in command, Tolson (Hammer).
For all it’s good points, J. Edgar’s greatest flaw is its inconsistent script. Told through flashbacks by an unreliable narrator, the plot feels choppy and unable to decide where it wishes to start and end, making the entire film feel like multiple out of sequence episodes, making it hard to keep track of different characters or even what J.Edgar stood for. That said, individual scenes are compelling enough for you to keep watching and you can forgive the film for being unable to tie up all the plot’s loose ends when the chief character thrived on secrets and lies.