Ha! When I saw the trailer for this movie I honestly thought it was about one of our past presidents. Well that tells you how much I know about J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI Director. I may not be familiar with who he was or what he did, but his name is definitely well-known to me. When watching the trailer, I was all types of confused because I couldn’t understand why the “President” was working so closely with the FBI…smh. Forgive my ignorance…The trailer was just ok to me, I didn’t think it looked cohesive, but I could see that Leonardo seemed to have a nice handle on Mr. Hoover. Then you add director Clint Eastwood to the pot, well that was enough to get me on board.
Skimmed a few reviews before seeing it, and many critics loved Leonardo’s performance, but didn’t like that the movie didn’t give more insight to Hoover himself. “What more insight would you like the film to have touched on to make you satisfied” would be my question to these critics. I personally felt I received way more insight than I needed on J. Edgar’s life. Of course this is coming from someone who didn’t know much about him going in, so everything was new to me. I thought his life was amazingly complex, and a little disturbing. I feel that I got a lot of insight into the life of the 1st Director of the FBI. Subject matter that I read hasn’t even been confirmed, but rumored, ran deeply in the story…wow.
I agree with critics when they praise Leonardo’s performance. It was very hard to even separate his character from the man himself. I did find the aging makeup to be a little scary for all characters. The makeup at first looks plastic, and looks as if everyone’s face is melting…lol. But don’t worry, the makeup isn’t bad enough to distract you from the movie. I can’t say I had much discontent with the direction of this film, although I am biased because I am a total fan of Clint Eastwood’s directing style. I did find however that the film lacked some cohesiveness. The story continues to switch from “present day” Hoover, to younger Hoover. I did find myself getting lost at points. For the life of me I could not understand why every time they came back to the part of the story where Hoover is having his biography typed by a young agent, there was always a DIFFERENT agent in the chair…did I miss something? I also wished at the end they would have given more insight about what happened to “Helen Gandy” after everything was said and done. She seemed to be a key component in J. Edgar’s career, but there was nothing else about her past his death…hmmmmm.
All in all I have to say that I enjoyed it. If you know Hoover like the back of your hand, then this may not be the movie for you, as you may feel you didn’t receive anything that you already didn’t know. But for those that are as less informed as I, I think you will find it to be a very interesting biographical film…B+