Words by Christopher Jelf
As a historian, J.Edgar is a film that I have been eagerly anticipating. J.Edgar Hoover is a very controversial and complicated figure of recent history. His personal life has been widely disputed throughout many decades, and this unfortunately somewhat overshadows his incredible achievements. However, it was Edgar’s secret deceitfulness that acquired him such a reputation, he was silent about his personal life and he was certainly illegitimate about his methods of criminal detection as the Director of the FBI, such as harassing political activists and those that would insinuate his alleged homosexuality.
However, Edgar was hugely influential in the establishment of the FBI in 1935 and was Director until his death in 1972. Edgar modernized police technology through centralized fingerprint technology and forensic science. His controversial tenure as head of the FBI meant that directors now have a limited tenure. I do not think that J.Edgar pays his truly incredible story of Hoover any justice.
J.Edgar consists of a highly elite cast, whom all perform to a fantastic ability. The cast of acclaimed actors is long, so I will not recite it all. Te cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Ed Westwick. J.Edgar is also directed and produced by the Godfather of cinema, Clint Eastwood. I cannot help but think that they have made the best of a bad situation with this film.
The film has a confusing narrative and the sets are not brilliantly portrayed through the lens. A ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ board of 146 critics consisted of only 46 % whom gave it a positive review. Whilst the acting was rather good, especially DiCaprio whom pulls off the tortured Hoover fantastically (A Golden Globe nomination is testament of this) the film seriously lacks in coherence. DiCaprio took an alleged 90% pay cut for this film, this should mean he had true faith in its structure, and I am not sure why. Regardless, dependent on your personal measure of success, it has financially succeeded at the very least. With a budget of $30 million, it has so far raised $50 million, and it still has a run ahead of it. Simply put, it is not worth the anticipated wait.