If you are in for an American political drama you’ll be seriously disappointed
By Jyotsna Kumar
Controversies were not part of his life. Controversies became his life. It was like drugs which he got addicted to. J. Edgar Hoover tried everything- every cheap tricks in his book to safeguard his position as the first FBI director.
J. Edgar is a biopic. And the way it’s been treated is almost like unfolding chapters/episodes from his biography. This is why I suggest you do a thorough check before you book your tickets.
As the first director of FBI, J. Edgar put everything at stake for 50 odd years. For which he even paid a heavy price. His personal life got restricted, his reputation was questioned.
What is remarkable about this film is the way Edgar’s ingenious contrivances has been projected. His deeds, his noble intentions, bear a hint of manipulation.
The sharp contrast from a young to an aged Edgar within a frame demonstrates precision in editing and the way his chain of thoughts were carried over. The narration speaks about Edgar’s true grit and gut, when the worse came knocking on his door. At the same his vulnerability gets heightened through numerous ‘secret files’ he kept and used as his defense mechanism.
As J. Edgar Leonardo portrayal was archetypal (read Aviator, Inception & Shutter Island). Are Hollywood actors getting typecast?
There are four major characters in the film that truly stands out apart from the protagonist- first up Judi Dench as Edgar’s mother. Her love, affection and more importantly obsession with her son were subtly portrayed by Dench.
As Edgar’s first love interest and close confidant Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy was impressive. Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, who was alleged to be Edgar’s homosexual partner and close associate was appealing as a young man. However, his older profile was soooooooooooooo fake! His make-up was so ridiculously done that at times you would refuse to take him seriously.
You should always keep in mind whenever you are out to watch a Clint Eastwood film, you need to be patient and keep time in hand (read Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima & Bridges of the Madison County). There are ample moments in J.edgar where you would feel the film is over but Eastwood wouldn’t let go till it’s gone… Eastwood gives ample time to his actors to settle into their respective characters. And it’s only then he moves on to the script.
In this biopic he focuses more on Edgar’s personal life rather than his political career. The film unfolds upheavals in the political history of America from 1920’s till 70’s but only in bits and pieces. The film focuses more on Edgar’s sexuality rather than his controversial career. So if you are in for an American political drama you’ll be seriously disappointed. The screenplay is bit tiring and perhaps the weakest link of the film by the writer Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner for his original script for ‘Milk’.
J. Edgar is for those who have read, known about Edgar’s controversial life out of interest. So if you empathize with him even remotely, then it’s a subtle pick for you in the coming weekend.