Walking out after viewing the film J. Edgar, I said to my wife that something seemed wrong about the movie. Despite it being captivating and worth seeing, I was bothered.
The early reviews have been mostly positive, particularly about the directing, by Clint Eastwood, a director I’ve come to admire, the acting, of Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor who I’ve grudgingly come to admire also, and the writing, of Dustin Black (Milk).
The following morning, Ellen said something akin to, “ Having lived through the excesses, the flagrant violations of the law, and systemic violations of the constitutional rights of individuals under J Edgar Hoover’s reign at the FBI, the movie is too sympathetic a portrait of the man. But it’s nothing less than what you’d expect from the politically conservative director Clint Eastwood.”
I think she’s about right, at least about it being sympathetic. Without wanting to spoil the film for those of you who plan to see it, know that this portrait of Hoover, while largely, if not exclusively, based on the facts of Hoover’s life and his directorship of the FBI, seeks to describe and to explain (and thus ‘forgive’?) what made this man the way he was.
It is a soft portrait. It is a sympathetic portrait in some ways. You learn much of who he really was, his secrets, his insecurities, and what led to his excesses. And if you did not know of the early good that he did in building the FBI into an important institution, you will learn that too.
But then maybe Ellen and I are too focused on what happened in the 60s and 70s.
I’d be curious about your reactions to the film. The first report I have from a long time Washington resident is that he and his companion “loved the film.”
I thought the film worthwhile, especially learning about his early career and what he did at the Library of Congress. That said, I thought it was “soft” about him…His anti-black, antisemitic attitudes didn’t really come across to the degree that he held them. His “secret’ files, although brought out in the film, were very detrimental to our democracy.
I thought DeCaprio did a fine job…
I am conflicted about these biopic movies…They do teach us something, sometimes….My concern is that people will believe what they are seeing in the movies as true history….when often it is “powerwashed” and ‘Hollywoodized”…(new words)
Thanks for your review.
Carol Board said:
The movie, J. Edgar left me feeling depressed. I admit it was an excellant film, DeCapri
was great, but I never quite felt I understood his character. There was much to enjoy in this film, visionally pleasant, good action, raw emotion, interesting subject.
Trying to figure out why I felt “down”,after seeing this. I first thought that the story kept changing “time periods” and I had a hard time keeping my train of thought.
And then I realized another reason, more personal. I found it uncomfortable watching the two main characters age so, a subjest that has been on my mind.
If the viewer can keep from laughing at the script’s constant fantasizing of the Tolson-Hoover relationship, the SNL-style imitations (portrayals just doesn’t fit) of RFK and Nixon, the use of very poor computer generated imagery and appalling make-up creates a visual environment of such artificiality that it is impossible to take the picture seriously. Does this idea ring true with those of you trying to figure out what’s a bit off?
The 3 actors most encased in foam rubber (Watts, di Caprio, and Hammer) deserve battle pay for all the adhesive, the hours spent in the chair, and the having of their most crucial tool–the mobility of their faces–taken from them by those intrusive prostheses.
I can forgive the misspelling of the late lamented Garfinkle’s [sic] department store. But good Eastwood, whose work I almost always appreciate, has made a clunker.
His Lordship, The Duke of Brooklyn said:
I liked the film, yet I left feeling the movie left much that I wanted to know/understand about this man unanswered, incomplete. I came away with
More questions than answers….
He was A sad figure…lonely… isolated…repressed…deceitful…some would say, evil.
On the other hand, he must have been very smart…visionary. He probably did great work for the country BUT power seems to have corrupted his vision and mission —
I didn’t need this movie to tell me that. RIP