J. Edgar

Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, and Judi Dench

Clint Eastwood is a legendary actor, a beloved filmmaker, and an American icon.  He has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the world of film.  It's only fitting that he be the one to tackle a biopic on J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous, controversial FBI Director who forever changed the landscape of law enforcement.  On top of that, he has a phenomenal star playing Hoover--Leonardo DiCaprio.  Unfortunately, the classy Clint Eastwood treatment for this richly scandalous historic figure did not work at all.  J. Edgar should have been a much better film than it was, and I would drink to that fact.

During the last years of his career, J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) begins dictating the memoirs that will document his historic and controversial life.  Hoover goes on to discuss the early part of his career working for the Bureau of Investigation and his rise to power as the founding director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Along the way, he pioneers new ways to fight crime, blackmails presidents, and has a gay relationship with his colleague Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).  He quickly becomes one of the most controversial figures in American history.

J. Edgar has some superb performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, and Dame Judi Dench.  The problems come in when we start talking about any other aspect of the filmmaking.  In any movie directed by Clint Eastwood in the later part of his career, he has approached the subject matter with a certain grace and elegance.  Whether dealing with war in Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, death in Hereafter, or euthanasia in Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood has made his work classy. When dealing with one of the most feared and scandalous public figures of the 20th century, classy filmmaking does not work at all.  With juicy material like Hoover's life and career, I should not be tempted to get some shuteye during the film.

The other big problem with J. Edgar is the makeup.  While I respect the fact that DiCaprio is portraying Hoover from the youthful age of 24 to the ripe old age of 77, he does not look like a normal old person in the movie.  The same can be said for Armie Hammer's Clyde Tolson and Naomi Watts' Helen Gandy.  All of them look like they're either wearing amazing Halloween costumes or they had botched plastic surgeries.  Just take a good look at these actors when they're portraying the older versions of their characters, and you will see exactly what I'm talking about.  Clint Eastwood is no spring chicken.  He's well into his 80s.  As brilliant as he is, you would at least expect him to portray old people accurately.  In actuality though, Eastwood needs to pull a page from the Benjamin Button playbook and go digital.

J. Edgar is a film for which expectations were riding high.  With a man at the helm who has had a thriving film career despite every major shift or trend in Hollywood, you would expect big things.  Unfortunately, Eastwood's J. Edgar falls flat, and its only salvation is the bottle.  J. Edgar gets a 0.09% rating.  You're gonna need something strong.  For a dry film like this, some dry gin will do.