So what did Rama think of J.EDGAR? Looks like it is time to find out. Make to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
I think Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance, the make-up and costume design all deserve Oscar nods for J. EDGAR but I just can’t get into the film because it seems to me that it’s unable to make up its mind on how it would present J. Edgar Hoover.
Oscar winning screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, who I admire for his work on Milk, gets lost in spinning fascinating lines like “When Morals Decline and Good Men Do Nothing Evil Flourishes”, which to me is more or less another version of Edmund Burke’s famous quote, to decide if the audience wants to see the closet homosexual side of Hoover or the ambitious side of him, or the side that clings too much to his mother or the side the blackmails presidents using the files he’s accumulated and kept over the years. But today’s audience probably don’t know much about the man who ruled FBI for decades to even care about this depiction…
During his lifetime, J. Edgar Hoover would rise to be the most powerful man in America. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years, he would stop at nothing to protect his country. Through eight presidents and three wars, Hoover waged battle against threats both real and perceived, often bending the rules to keep his countrymen safe. His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted, if ever elusive, prize.
Hoover was a man who placed great value on secrets—particularly those of others—and was not afraid to use that information to exert authority over the leading figures in the nation. Understanding that knowledge is power and fear poses opportunity, he used both to gain unprecedented influence and to build a reputation that was both formidable and untouchable.
He was as guarded in his private life as he was in his public one, allowing only a small and protective inner circle into his confidence. His closest colleague, Clyde Tolson, was also his constant companion. His secretary, Helen Gandy, who was perhaps most privy to Hoover’s designs, remained loyal to the end…and beyond. Only Hoover’s mother, who served as his inspiration and his conscience, would leave him, her passing truly crushing to the son who forever sought her love and approval.
As seen through the eyes of Hoover himself, “J. Edgar” explores the personal and public life and relationships of a man who could distort the truth as easily as he upheld it during a life devoted to his own idea of justice, often swayed by the darker side of power.
Exclusive Interview: Clint Eastwood Talks Casting DiCaprio,Theron & Dench For Upcoming J. Edgar Film-
I know it’s going to be tough telling a story like this under two hours, so I think it’s great that director Eastwood makes the story non-linear, a few flashbacks by way of Hoover’s memoir that’s in the works or by way of elevator or simply coming back into the room after enjoying the fresh air and the view from the balcony. So making the audience figure out which era they’re on, keeps their attention fixed on what may otherwise have been a very slow film that deserves to only be on History Channel.
The make-up work on Leonardo DiCaprio is actually more effective than the make up work on Arnie Hammer’s character, Clyde Tolson, which doesn’t look as convincing. But DiCaprio’s young voice unfortunately doesn’t make old Hoover sound old. DiCaprio tries but the only thing that’s old is his appearance.
I find that whole thing surprising because the make-up job didn’t have me sold when I watched the trailer a while back but it’s actually not that bad at all.
There are things about this film that don’t work for me, such as the CG presidential convoy, the over dramatized argument between Tolson and Hoover, and Jeffrey Donovan as Robert Kennedy, but then again, DiCaprio looks nothing like the real Hoover either. But I suppose it’s one of those cases much like Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, in that it’s not casting the actor that resembles the character so much as casting the actor who can understand and deliver the character appropriately.
I’m not an expert on Hoover, I’m sure most of you history buff out there would know more thus able to make a more sound judgment about this depiction but what I do appreciate about screenwriter Black’s attempt is his showcasing a man who makes himself bigger or more heroic than he actually is, why the jealousy, the envy, the grudge, his personality complex and using patriotism to justify his actions. The impression I get from the film is that Hoover feels that if he can’t be the most powerful in the man in the country, he sure as hell will make the most powerful man in the country fear him because he has something on him.
GRADE: 3 out of 5
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