My rating: 2 and a half reels out of 5
J Edgar is a biographical drama about the life of John Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI for nearly 50 years. A man who was both feared and admired but held secrets that would ruin his image, career, and his life.
The secrets that J Edgar had seem a little tame by today's standards. Secrets about powerful U.S. figures? Those are big secrets but J Edgar as a cross dresser? Meh. Was J Edgar secretly gay? Meh. The movie's main focus was J Edgar rather the FBI itself which seemed to me would've been the most interesting aspect of history to see. The filmmakers seemed like they were torn in different directions on how to portray J Edgar and did not fully invest themselves on ideas, such as J Edgar's rumored cross dressing behavior or his sexuality.
The movie spans from when J Edgar first became director to his death. That is a lot of time to cover and there is a lot of skipping around. Some side stories are only touched upon and you are left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And that is just too much information to leave for the viewer to decide. In particular, the relationships around J Edgar such as his right hand man, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and his secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts).
Leo does a great job in portraying J Edgar, but it seems like everyone is subdued around J Edgar, like everyone was told to act scared around J Edgar. Armie Hammer, the actor who played those pesky twins in The Social Network, stands out among the other actors. But my favorite bit of acting actually comes from Jeffrey Donovan (the spy in the show Burn Notice), who portrays Robert Kennedy. A small role, but fun to see his portrayal of RFK. And as J Edgar, Clyde Tolson, and Helen Gandy get older, they get drowned in make-up that becomes a little too distracting.
As much as I can enjoy dramatic movies, this one could not sustain my interest. I found my mind wandering and was starving for action. When the action does come, it's very little. By the end, it was hard to sympathize with the character of J Edgar the filmmakers portrayed to us and I was glad to get out of the theatre.
You'll probably like this movie if:
1. You like biographical dramas.
2. You like Leonardo Dicaprio.
You probably won't like this movie if:
1. You like a fluid storyline.
2. You are bored by talking movies.