J. Edgar review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
The face of American law enforcement for fifty years J, Edgar Hoover was a man to be reckoned with, whether you feared, respected or admired him, however history has shown that behind closed doors Hoover had a wealth of his own secrets, the exposure of which could have ruined his reputation and career.
Now many will already know he gossip surrounding the former head of the FBI including that he liked to dress in women’s clothing, he lived alone with his mother until her death and that he shared a close and intimate friendship with the tall and handsome bachelor Clyde Tolson, couple this with the fact that screenwriter Dustin Lance Black also wrote the fantastic Milk you would expect J Edgar to be a movie about homosexuality.
It is in fact far more than that. This is a striking investigation into the sheer control and effort required to constantly uphold a public image. It depicts Hoover, played flawlessly by Leonardo DiCaprio, as a hard and difficult man, totally focused and determined, who was quite willing to let many of the more personal and emotional sides of his life simply become an afterthought, discarded and forgotten their unimportance shockingly apparent.
While it is difficult to truly appreciate the brilliance of DiCaprio’s performance through the guise of a rather unpleasant character, he is not the only genuinely astounding aspect of the movie: never before have I seen a film that so precisely and yet so effortlessly covers seventy years, with a seamless and straight forward grace, that makes you feel as though the time is genuinely passing you by.
There is very little of the gossip or tabloid in this movie, instead it takes a rather critical but honest look at J Edgar’s ability to permanently wear the mask of power and control, even in his private life, without being completely crushed beneath it. J Edgar is an interesting and intellectual movie that should have received far more acknowledgment in this year’s Oscars Nominations.