Saturday, 3 December 2011

J.Edgar- review

Directed by Clint Eastwood,the biopic of the first director of the FBI,J.Edgar Hoover sees Leonardo DiCaprio as the controversial man himself ,while Armie Hammer ,Naomi Watts  and Judi Dench as its supporting cast.
The movie is told in flashbacks as the now J.Edgar in his 60s telling to a autobiographer about his past.we are shown  how Edgar became the man he is which includes the formation of the forensic teams in the FBI,the fingerprint method and also his darker side where he seems misuse and collect information on people he feels dangerous to the country based just on how he feels.Clint Eastwood also shows the other side of Hoover,a man longing for acceptance  and respect from the people around him as well dealing with his homosexuality(which is only  hinted in the film ).
Leonardo DiCaprio performance as the FBI first director is spectactcular.he definitely deserves an Oscar nod for his portrayal and maybe even a win .When in the office you see the strict and discipline Hoover (which can seen as cocky  sometimes like when he fires a colleague for having moustache) and while with Clyde(Armie Hammer) you see the softer side of hoover who tends to smile,whispering to each other and even being a bit flamboyant in one scene with the flowers and Leonardo captures both sides of Hoover  at a top notch.While is he is confident on the outside,Hoover seems to always worry about on others perception on him,whether do people truly respect him,and Leo manages to convey both with confidence in his speech during the trials, when he talks with his colleagues and when he says he will take the job as FBI director only if it will have no political involvement and showing vulnerability when he awkwardly kisses and proposes Helen Gandy(Naomi Watts).I loved the scene where Hoover(Leo)  mourns for his mother's death while wearing her dress and necklace.It was moving.The scene where Hoover almost comes out to his mother is another scene where Leonardo DiCaprio shines.His  facial expression and the body language when he says to his mom that he doesn't like to dance and he doesn't like to dance especially with women is superb.His facial expression  when Clyde kisses him and saying "Don't do that again" is priceless and when he screams in tears ,Clyde,Clyde don't leave me,Leonardo is so convincing and can be said one of the best scenes of the movie.

Armie Hammer portrayal of Clyde Tolson is probably  the  breakthrough male performance of the year.Although Armie was always there standing behind Leo as his  go to man,the relationship part between Hoover and Tolson is where Armie Hammer shines.The scene where he confesses his love to Edgar and then getting furious which leads to a fight after Edgar mentioning some of his female friends was fantastic.The line "only if you promise to have lunch and dinner everyday together" which Armie says to Leo when he is offered the associate director position could have been cheesy if said by some other actor but Armie nails it perfectly.His body language as an older guy also work with the exception of the makeup which makes him to look like a fire burn victim.He definitely deserves a nomination for best supporting actor category.

As for other of the cast ,Naomi Watts did a descent job portraying the loyal Helen Gandy.She did have some moments in the film but I felt she was underused.Judi Dench has Annie hoover,Edgar's homophobic loving  and maybe overprotective mom is fantastic.She probably had the best line in the film when she looks Hoover straight to his eyes and said 'I rather have a dead son rather than daffodil as a son'

As for the minuses of the film would be the screenplay itself regarding the development of the FBI and Hoover's career.Being someone who has less knowledge on Hoover,I found the narrative confusing and hard to follow.However I do like the relationship part of the screenplay of Hoover and Tolson which never explicitly stated whether Edgar was gay or not.

The makeup is probably the worst thing of the film. The makeup of Leonardo DiCaprio is okay but in some scenes it does look a bit odd ,especially the scene when Hoover is talking with the doctor about Tolson.Armie  Hammer's makeup as stated above made him look like a man wearing a rubber mask while Naomi Watts makeup do look amateurish.As for the costume design,before watching the film I heard Leonardo had 80 costume changes but I never felt any of the costumes stood out.Clint Eastwood  previous film Changeling which is also set in the same era had better costumes and i can still remember some the hats Angelina Jolie wore in the film whereas the costume in this film are not that memorable.The art direction team did a commendable job to recreate the old era of the 20s to 70s.
Overall it was a okay film  packed with award worthy performances from the cast.

Possible Oscar nominations:
Best Actor-Leonardo DiCaprio(in my top 5)
Best Supporting Actor-Armie Hammer(in my top 5)
Best Supporting Actress-Judi Dench (in my top 10)
Best Art Direction-Gary Fettis& James J.Murakami(in my top 10)

My score: B+


NeverTooEarlyMP said...

Nice review. The more I think about this film, the more I like it. There's one scene early on where Tolson is hid behind a screen (doubtless representing the closet), and Hoover tells him not to come in. I also hadn't noticed the 80 costume hanges (they all look like suits to me), but the costume designers might pick up on the details better than I.

Great review and I'm glad you liked the film!

F.FRANKLIN said...

i remember the scene although i never analyze it like like you the more i think about this film the more the performances stands infront of my eyes....althoughthe kiss scene can be predicted..i like the usage of blood in the scene,quite different..havent seen that in film before and did you felt based on some scenes that helen gandy(naomi watts) regretted for refusing his proposal...