Hoover is a name that’s synonymous with the FBI. For nearly 50 years the man built the Federal Bureau of Investigation into what it is today, battling the press, government and the general public. J. Edgar sees Leonardo DiCaprio stepping into Hoover’s shoes and taking on, possibly, his most complex role to date. The film may not appeal to the general public in the same way that Romeo + Juliet or Inception did; partly because most ˜non-Americans’ will not know who he unless they take interest in American history, or are their parents age. Despite this it’s definitely not one to miss. The only thing to bear in mind – the film is long, not as long as Titanic but extensive none the less. Snacks are necessary.
The plot bases itself around J. Edgar Hoover as an elderly man, however still Director of the F.B.I. Realising he hasn’t documented his life and the achievements filling it; the film quickly swoops into him dictating to various different writers, events that have happened over his lifetime. The story focuses on how he came to build up the Bureau from the young age of 24 and explores the responsibility placed on his shoulders by people such as his mother (Judi Dench) and the Attorney General. The time frame flicks back and forth between the past and present, Note – Leo may possibly age badly if this film is anything to go by. Along the way he builds long term relationships with Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) and Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) who stay consistently loyal throughout his personal and professional life.
When going to see J. Edgar I knew the basic facts about Hoover; however the film brought to light just how controversial he was during those decades. Not only was he an innovator and fierce man he was also incredibly shy and unsure of himself. The film humanises him, making it easier to see him as a self conscious human-being and not the arrogant and unpleasant man that most presumed he was. DiCaprio grasps the characters complexities with full force and steps out of his comfort zone, playing a man with more hidden layers than a book. It’s important to acknowledge not only Leonardo’s ability to play anything and everything with complete believability but also his co-star Armie Hammer. Hammer who plays his right hand man and trusted friend played a huge part in contributing to Hoover’s and the F.B.I’s success, whether this is actually true is another story. Despite being fairly unknown and starring alongside such a big timer he only added credibility to the film. Throughout J. Edgar the audience could feel his angst and confusion over the part he played in Hoover’s troubled life.
One slight pause for thought would be that everything was slightly long winded and did not nesessarily need to be. Unfortunately at times J. Edgar crawled by despite being so interesting. A little more action would not go a miss, and action is expected when the F.B.I is involved.