Friday, 27 July 2012

J Edgar: Blu Ray Review

J Edgar: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Warner Home Video

Leonardo di Caprio stars as J Edgar Hoover, the man who, over nearly 50 years in public office and serving somewhere in the region of 8 presidents, helped redefine the criminal system in the USA, set up the FBI - and who had a tendency to spy on a lot of people.

It starts with a looming voiceover intoning that “It’s time this generation heard my side of the story” and cuts to Hoover dictating his memoirs to a series of agents – starting with his first foray into the world of crime investigation in 1919, while at the Department of Justice.

Central to the story is the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s son in 1932 aka The Crime of the Century– which not only sent J Edgar’s FBI into the spotlight but horrified the nation at the time.

And at the same time, Eastwood’s picture concentrates on Hoover’s own internal struggle with his sexuality, his attraction and friendship to protégé Clyde Tolson (played by The Social Network’s Armie Hammer), and his relationship with his mother (Judi Dench) and his fiercely loyal secretary, Helen Gandy (Watts).

While the narrative jumps around a lot and flashes back and forth between the investigations and
Hoover’s later years, it’s a film which really does belong to Leonardo di Caprio.

His ferocious blistering performance as the man whose puritanical, even evangelical speeches were clearly his defining trait, is one to watch from the moment it begins. It’s a commanding performance which while seeming initially full of bluster, is one which lets some of the hidden truths about 
Hoover come out through a subtly nuanced performance of inner turmoil.

Scenes with Judi Dench stand out as well – as 
Hoover tries to reveal to his overbearing mother he doesn’t like women, he’s told she’d rather have a dead son than a “daffodil”.

Di Caprio’s co-star Armie Hammer does well as Tolson in conveying their relationship and mutual love too – even if towards the end, he’s a little weighed down with latex and liver spots. Naomi Watts suffers a little from a lack of limelight as 
Hoover’s trusted secretary Helen Gandy and you’re never quite 100% sure why she supported Hoover so rigidly.

All in all, J Edgar is an interesting – if occasionally overlong - portrait of the man – and while Clint Eastwood’s direction sometimes errs toward the clunky, it’s a fascinating and compelling central performance from di Caprio which keeps the audience along for the ride.

Extras: Behind the scenes piece


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