If you have a wristwatch, wear it to this movie. You’ll want to check it several times.
I am sorry to report that “J. Edgar” is slow and boring. Leonardo DiCaprio brought so much energy to “The Aviator,” but he can’t keep this one from taking a nosedive.
Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is a compelling character, but the fascination is probably greater for folks of director Clint Eastwood’s generation than to baby boomers and Gen-Xers. Much of his life and legend are already known. The film focuses on Hoover’s effort to control what the FBI does and to control public perception of himself and the agency.
One problem with “J. Edgar” is the almost monochromatic art direction, which Eastwood has used successfully in other movies. Here it just makes the film seem drab.
Telling the story in flashbacks (as an aging Hoover dictates his memoir) is okay, but a chronological buildup to our seeing Leo in elderly person makeup might’ve worked better.
The question of Hoover’s homosexuality is addressed. He is depicted as a reluctant gay, ever aware of his status with FBI. Much of that part of his life must, of necessity, be based on speculation since people like him did not come “out” in those days.
The acting is generally good. Armie Hammer plays Hoover’s FBI assistant and companion Clyde Tolson. Judi Dench plays Hoover’s mother. Naomi Watts plays his secretary.
DiCaprio is guilty of occasional overacting. Maybe he felt a lot of responsibility was riding on his shoulders and that he should, therefore, overcompensate.
I hope Leo DiCaprio has a happy 37th birthday on November 11. I suggest you celebrate it by seeing something other than “J. Edgar.”