Looking back to films like ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’, I think I can be forgiven for thinking that Eastwood’s handling of J. Edgar wouldn’t disappoint, but to cut a long story (and film) short, it did.

The film centres on J. Edgar Hoover and the events that led up to the establishment of the FBI and his position as its main director from 1935 until his death in 1972. Considering the controversy of the FBI, the strange and disturbing rumours of Hoover’s private life, as well as the sheer mass of major events that occurred between the 30’s and 70’s, the film is nothing but dull. Perhaps due to the onset of Dementia, Eastwood decided to set his directorial hands to the retelling of Hoover’s homoerotic relationship with his pal, lackey and right hand man Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

This left me deflated, as I had expected the film to be a tense period drama addressing issues such as anti-American activities and the civil rights movement, but instead I got to witness Brokeback Mountain, with suits instead of boots and spurs and an office instead of a mountain.
Despite this, it must be said that as usual DiCaprio’s performance was a saving grace, taking the portrayal of a bona fide historical patriot in his stride. Hammer’s performance as the young Tolson also pleased, but when it came to Tolson the geriatric his acting seemed only to accentuate the questionable prosthetics.

The overall look of the piece was an optical delight, the lighting, sets and costumes matching the decades harmoniously, helped by the colour schemes.
What ruined J. Edgar for me was its lack of cohesion and focus. The constant flashbacks made me paranoid that I had entirely misunderstood the film and that it was actually about a top secret time machine that the FBI had created. At times it felt as if Eastwood had trouble finding the main driving force behind Dustin Lance Black’s script, opting to create a new genre of homoerotic-period-historical drama-crime fighting-buddy movie that, surprise surprise, did not work

For budding historians and those with an interest in the FBI, or those of you who are just keen to see DiCaprio in a dress (it does happen), then the film is probably worth a watch. However, for those expecting a bit of tension and some good old fashioned anti-Communist American propaganda, then this is not the film for you. I tried to come up with an F.B.I related pun, but you can just make your own to pass the time in the cinema, then it won’t feel like a complete waste of an Orange Wednesday code.


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