Genre: Bio Drama
Premise: Jumping around in time in non-linear fashion, J. Edgar documents the life of notorious FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), his rise to power resulting from his investigation of the missing Charles Lindbergh baby, and his are they-aren’t they relationship with No. 2, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).
Behind-the-Scenes: The screenwriter is Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar in ’08 for Milk. His script suggests that Hoover and Tolson had a homosexual relationship, but, in the finished film, Hoover comes across as more asexual than anything else. Clint Eastwood directs.
The Good: It’s Eastwood, so there’s a level of craftsmanship and professionalism that gives it the look and feel of an Oscar-worthy movie. The desaturation of color on screen is an effective choice. Leo and Hammer make the Hoover-Tolson relationship interesting and complicated.
The Bad: It’s Eastwood, so it shares the same slow and methodical pacing as his other movies. I almost gagged when the Warner Bros. logo appeared and that stupid Eastwood plunk plunk piano score started playing. Hire a damn composer, Mr. Eastwood! The running time is 137 minutes, but it feels like you’re in the theater for days. The script tries to be complex, but it lacks any real focus or structure, rambling on and on with no real end in sight. Leo does what he can with the role, but he’s miscast. The movie is heavily reliant on old age make-up that looks bad and only serves to distract.
Should You See It?: No. This has the pedigree of an Oscar film, but doesn’t stand a chance of winning anything. It is a giant, “prestigious” bore, and a waste of 3 hours of your life. Wikipedia entries on Hoover are probably more entertaining than this.
Rating: ** out of 5 stars.