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J. Edgar, The federal review

Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Written by: Dustin Lance Black

The controversial story of one of the most important American in the 20th century

J. Edgar is a 2011 Biography Directed of the man who is nationally acknowledged as the founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The life of a man who dedicated 48 to build the bureau from the ground up by introducing  sophisticated use of science to solve crime is eventually caught up between what has to be done and his own sense of justice while making secrets of his own, a well portrayed part by  Leonardo DiCaprio convincing performance followed by an interesting choice of chronology and screenplay.

From dirty Harry to director.

I was quite Surprised to find out that the director for this movie proved to be Clint Eastwood, the man who directed Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby (the later which my sister loved), movies which I both watched and mildly enjoyed, I’m not a big fan of in-your-face drama’s which forces you to inhale the harsh reality which – at times -alienates my thoughts and my interest most of all  forcing me to choose another movie from my wide collection. Yet this movie felt kind and harsh at the same time playing on the diverse situations throughout the movie (which remind me to give some props to Dustin L. Black for the well written screenplay). Anyway, it’s needless to say that I never thought Clint Eastwood would direct a movie with such story and historical status. Or maybe I should watch more of his work?

Back to the review at hand, I already knew who J. Edgar Hoover was, or what I thought he was: a strong communist hater who abused his power in secrecy while hiding behind a charade of domestic protection. Which was proven to be mind-made speculation created due to falling half asleep while watching discovery channel. No, J. Edgar was a complicated man who strongly obeyed his mother to an excessive limit (still lived with her till her death) and believed in the aid of science to solve crime, something that was mocked back then. He was smart, persistent , outspoken while being socially crippled developing a speech-impertinent each time he felt insecure or when confronted with his sexual nature.Those are characteristics that require a good actor , DiCaprio undoubtedly is that good actor. Leonardo DiCaprio went as far as changing his speech pattern and intonation effectively erasing his presence to make place for J. Edgar Hoover, such dedicated performance which I so admired in Blood Diamond is seen yet again to my delight. I often wonder if DiCaprio isn’t a method actor,Forcing J. Edgar’s personality into his own made it easier to digest the few scenes which lacked excitement or character development or which were plain awkward (scenes addressing Egar’s social life and hinted sexuality) .

The story switches between Hoovers past and future.

Introducing the movie with an old J. Edgar summoning a young agent to write his slightly exaggerated biography is a keen way to look back at the start of his long career and tiresome lifeline while shifting back to recent events to introduce key characters in the past that makes their return in the designated presence keeping the story interesting and non-linear. Now to be quite honest I would have preferred a classic chronological biography. Yes, it was well done but there was no actual need to do it the way it was done, the premise of this movie was not affected by the choice of chronology what so ever.

The constant discussions and debates about the Bureau’s true purpose and the underlined moral conduct of the bureau and it’s enemies are important aspects I enjoyed in this movie which – as Edgar and his few trusted ‘friends’ grow older- become more personal and confrontational revealing some truth which reflects on Edgar’s personality and personal achievements near the end of the movie.I would also like to add as a closure that the role of Clyde Tolson (played by Armie Hammer), Egar’s Right-hand man and most trusted ally was incredibly well-played making the conversations interesting as two great actors take on the mantel of two historical figures .


If this movie was a bold statement it would have been a clear one. Tough the lack of a few elaboration on historical figures/criminals left me quite bitter it doesn’t change the fact that I’m pleased with this movie and that I think Leonardo DiCaprio deserved an Oscar nomination in the category ‘male leading role’. Good movie with a strong sense of realism build up by a great script and a well-chosen cast.This is one movie I wouldn’t mind getting. Would you?


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