Sunday, November 13, 2011

"J. Edgar" 2011

As you may or may not know, this movie was on my list of movies I was looking forward to.   It had some star power and an award winning director in Clint Eastwood. 
It had a lot of actors that were just distracting.  A cameo can be good, but when it pulls you out of the movie it would have been better if it was done by an unknown.  I spent too much of my time trying to figure out where I'd seen that actor before rather than getting immersed in the story. 
I love Judi Dench, but she is too old to be playing J. Edgar's mother.  Granted Hoover's mother was thirty-five when he was born, making her well into her fifties by the time he was part of the FBI, but Judi is clearly in her seventies.  I know that people showed their age more in those days before the good moisturizers, but this distracted me as well. 
The story itself is weak.  It didn't focus firmly on any part of Hoover's life and didn't draw you in.  It was if they were trying to avoid slandering a dead man.
The relationship between Hoover and his private secretary was interesting, but it was impossible to figure out the reason for her loyalty.  She turns him down after the most vague request for a relationship and then is suddenly among his most trusted advisors.  It never gives a reason.   Naomi Watson is wasted in this role as she never really shows any range of emotion. 
Armie Hammer is Clyde Tolson.  He is Hoover's second in command and more.  There is obvious attraction between them but still is underplayed significantly.   There is only one scene that comes close to implying their true relationship.  But again you never understand why they are together.
The whole movie suffers from a lack of any strong emotions.  I don't know if Eastwood was trying to play on the obvious repression due to Hoover's secret life, but it makes the story inaccessable.  We don't really care about anyone. 
And finally a stance on old age make up.  It doesn't work.  Split the part.  Have someone else play the old J. Edgar.  It can be done.  I am sure that poor Leonardo DiCaprio was showing his range, but you just can't have the range of emotion with that old make up.   Not that this movie had a lot of range. 
There was so much here that could have been done.  It is a subject ripe for exploration.  It is really hard to do anything biographical, I understand that.  The story didn't seem to know what it wanted to focus on.  If it is nominated for any Oscars, I would really be surprised.  It isn't often that I go to the theater and feel like I wasted my time, but this was one of those times.

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