J. Edgar Review: A Dream Team – But A Disappointing Script

J. Edgar claims to explores the professional and private life of one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century. However, it focuses far too much on the rumors that surrounded his private life than it does the interactions of his professional life. I had high hopes going into this film. After all with Leonardo DiCaprio staring as J. Edgar Hoover and Clint Eastwood directing, what could go wrong? It seemed like the dream team, but apparently the script could mess it all up.

The film does touch on Hoover’s appointment to the Bureau of Investigation, on the interactions with the Kennedy family, the Lindbergh baby, and Hoover’s efforts to discredit Martin Luther King… But it didn’t spend enough time on any of these with the exception of the Lindbergh baby (which seemed to be the event that got the most of the script’s attention). There were so many amazing events that the script could have focused more on, instead we just continue to scratch the surface on Hoover’s relationship with Tolson (Armie Hammer) and the alleged cross-dressing fetish. I would have much rather that time been spent exploring more of his interaction with the Kennedys.

It almost seems that Eastwood gave up trying to organize or control the film at all. We flash back to past and present in every other scene. Hoover is young – Hoover is old – Hoover is middle-aged – Hoover is young again. The impressive makeup on DiCaprio helps us know which decade we’re in, but it honestly seems about as organized as those flashbacks from Lost. It must also be noted that the makeup on Hammer who plays Tolson is painfully bad. What the heck happened there?

The acting is solid, but there’s only so much that even a talented and seasoned actor such as Leonardo DiCaprio can do to help a script as lacking as this one. Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, and Judi Dench all give wonderful performances, and the casting of Micahel Westin…er… Jeffrey Donovan as Bobby Kennedy is so perfect it’s almost disturbing. All the parts are there for an incredible film… It’s just so disappointing to see the outcome.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say J. Edgar is one of the major disappointments in cinema for 2011. I don’t expect to see it in the Oscar pool. Which is sad, because I had high hopes that this might be the well-overdue Oscar for DiCaprio.

Grade: C
Review By: Emma Loggins

Official site: http://html5.warnerbros.com/us/jedgar/


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  1. I blame Clint Eastwood. He tends to be impatient and film the first draft as quickly as possible ala Hereafter (even Peter Morgan, the film’s writer, wished he had more time to write a better script)…Granted, he’s 81 and doesn’t have much more time left, but that’s no excuse for lazy filmmaking