J. Edgar (2011)

Sometimes I sit down to write these things and have no idea where to take them.  I know how I feel about the movie, at least in a ranking sense, but I don’t know really how to equate that to words.  Well, maybe fully formed interesting sentences would be a better descriptor.  Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar is a biopic of J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), Director of the FBI and the man most instrumental in turning the FBI into a world class crime fighting organization.  As well as Big Brother.

The acting is fairly good to great all around, although there is a tendency by DiCaprio to sort of devolve into tics to either remind himself or the audience that HE IS J. EDGAR HOOVER.  However, the storyline of the movie plays out in a somewhat flashback format, allowing us to see the major players at various crossroads in their lives.  Hoover and his co-worker/possible life partner Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) are shown as bright young men, and then doddering old men, in various levels of plastic make-up.  It’s disconcerting at best, laughable at worst.

There are numerous name actors throughout the picture, and despite what IMDb says, I swear that’s Gerald McRaney as the judge in the Charles Lindbergh’s (Josh Lucas) baby kidnapping trial.  Stephen Root gives probably his most serious performance ever, and hell, I didn’t even know it was Naomi Watts as Hoover’s personal secretary, Helen Gandy, until I saw the cast list.  I don’t know whether that’s a compliment or a damning indictment of the make-up.

Ultimately, J. Edgar feels like it wants to be one of those prestigious biopics that garner numerous awards and accolades.  It rings a bit hollow, which is unusual for an Eastwood picture.  I liked it, and though I’ll probably never watch it again, it is a historically significant portrayal of a man that really did change the world, and should be watched by many.

4 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

2 Responses to J. Edgar (2011)

  1. dmar says:

    No doubt in my mind that’s Gerald McRaney also, but it’s currently impossible to verify that on the internet. A moderator on Clinteastwood.net insists it’s not, but acknowledges that he hadn’t seen the movie (huh?)

    I started a thread on the IMDB discussion board for the movie

  2. interesting that there is no credit for the judge, either in the cast listing in the film itself, or on imdb. but the voice is unmistakeable, definitely Gerald mcraney, and it looks like him too.

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