UK Release date: 20th January 2012
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 3rd February 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I’ll admit to being a bit of a fan of the films of Clint Eastwood; both as an actor and as a director he has given us some excellent entertainment over the years. Now, I knew ‘J. Edgar’ wasn’t particularly well received on release, but I decided to give it a look anyway due to my admiration of Eastwood’s work. I’m very sad to say this one didn’t hit the mark by some distance. I will explain more after this very brief summary.
We are told the story of J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), from his early days in the 1920’s fighting communism, through his rise to power and the formation of the FBI and right up to his death. On the way we meet many of the characters that shaped the man; his domineering mother Annie (Judi Dench); his personal secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) and his friend and confidant Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). Many of his achievements and several high-profile cases are highlighted but it is also a very personal story about his struggles with both bureaucracy and his own sexuality that make up the bulk of the film. I think that about covers it.
Although well made, I found the subject matter all a tad too dry; there was little excitement and what there was appeared very sporadic. I did like the look of the film though; the muted colours matched the mood; Eastwood always has a good eye for a shot and it shows. I also quite liked the original music, also written by Eastwood, nothing too ostentations, but nicely matched to the action. The performances were all very good with DiCaprio easily standing out but I thought Naomi Watts was woefully underused. Over all, I can’t say I was entirely thrilled with this one. I felt the whole thing was maybe too ambitious. If they had concentrated on (say) the Lindbergh kidnapping and used that as the backdrop to the narrative then maybe it would have worked better. But sadly this is not one I can recommend I’m afraid.
SteelMonster’s verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED
My score: 4.8/10.
IMDb Score: 6.7/10 (based on 56,367 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 59/100: (Based on 42 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 45/100 (based on 35,342 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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J. Edgar Hoover: Let me tell you something. The SCLC has direct Communist ties. Even great men can be corrupted, can't they? Communism is not a political party. It is a disease. It corrupts the soul, turning men, even the gentlest of men, into vicious evil tyrants.
J. Edgar Hoover: It's easy to be the expert if you're the only person in the world with any interest.
Clyde Tolson: He does also claim he can tell as much from a cut of wood as a doctor can from an autopsy.
J. Edgar Hoover: Ah.
Clyde Tolson: He has, um, social difficulties.
J. Edgar Hoover: He is mentally ill, isn't he?
Clyde Tolson: He's only as mad as you are - sir.
Congressman: But your agency is already one of the most well-funded in Washington, is it not?
J. Edgar Hoover: Yes, that is true sir, but our car and bank robbery recoveries totalled 6.5 million last year, and our budget is only, well, 2 million. Unlike other departments in Washington, we actually run a profit.
(NOTE: All links were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://jedgarmovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/#/home