December 28, 2011

J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood's lumbering biography of J. Edgar Hoover, the founding director of the FBI. Leonardo DiCaprio, whose mission is apparently to play every major public figure in the last 100 years (he played Howard Hughes, now Hoover, next year he may be playing Sinatra, and on top of all that he's going to play Fitzgerald's iconic literary figure Jay Gatsby in the upcoming Great Gatsby project), is not right for the part. In the scenes where he plays the old Hoover, it's pure camp. DiCaprio, resembling a doughy lollypop under piles of make-up, unsuccessfully tries to look old and withered but determined.

The alleged love affair between Hoover and his right-hand-man, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) is explored with an amazing lack of finesse, and what could have been electric turns out to be limp and unsatisfyingly bad drama. Eastwood seems to be pleased with how important he's (allegedly) become as a filmmaker, but he should remember his chief duty: to entertain. J. Edgar is nothing if not bloated and boring. Shall we tally up the Oscar nominations now?

Naomi Watts plays Hoover's dedicated secretary. A less interesting part I couldn't imagine for such a talented actress. Judi Dench plays Hoover's domineering mother. The film dithers on whether or not to portray their relationship as creepy or sentimental. Josh Lucas plays Charles Lindbergh in the most interesting part of the movie: the investigation of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. It's a pity the rest of the movie is so tediously unsustained. With Ken Howard, Lea Thompson, Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, and Jeffrey Donovan.

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