Dynamic duo doesn’t deliver drama

Justin Marietti

“J. Edgar,” a bio-pic by director Clint Eastwood, attempts to chronicle the life of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover from the beginning of his rise to power in 1919 to his death in 1972.

Before going to see the film, I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the man. I knew that he founded the FBI in 1935, personally adding “federal” to the name and that he was its director until the day he died.

Hoover was a mystery to most of the public throughout his career, but he was feared by the general public and fellow employees alike because of his often vulgar displays of power.

Given that context, I don’t typically enjoy films about political figures of any kind. However, the trailers for this particular film looked promising enough. Clint Eastwood is one of my all-time favorite actors/directors and Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting just gets better with age.

I figured that even if the story was terrible, Eastwood, DiCaprio and the rest of the cast should be able to make it into a respectable film about one of the most powerful figures America has ever seen.

Well, that’s about all I can say it was. When I walked away from this movie, I admit that I was slightly more curious about Hoover’s life than I was before. But I don’t think it’s a film I will ever care to see again, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a movie that Eastwood has directed, but it’s true.

As usual, DiCaprio delivers an inspiring performance as the power-hungry Hoover. He is able to do so even while he is hiding under the multiple layers of hideous makeup used to create an aged J. Edgar, which is respectable.

For the most part, “J. Edgar” hops through the major events in the former FBI director’s life in straight-forward, chronological fashion. Eastwood and the screenwriters cleverly present these events from the mouth of DiCaprio (Hoover), who is recanting his life story to a young writer and FBI employee.

As many historians, writers and perhaps Eastwood himself would agree, this serves as a bit of mockery toward Hoover’s character. Hoover may not have been the most reliable source, especially for a biography on his own life.

Apparently, he had a way with embellishing the facts to better suit himself and was a very jealous man when someone other than him received the spotlight.

As far as appearances go, I found the makeup used on the characters depicted during the “Old Hoover” section of the movie to be incredibly distracting from the story.

The character’s faces didn’t look real at all and I almost feel as though it would have been a lot more effective if they had just opted to use different actors for those parts.

DiCaprio’s makeup was the least ridiculous. His second in command for the majority of his career, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), was by far the worst makeup job I’ve ever seen though.

Hammer looked like something from a zombie movie, and the poor guy had to try and keep a straight face while filming all those scenes.

I give him some serious credit for even being able to show up on the set like that.

One of the best cinematic effects used in this movie was the use of shadows. It only seems appropriate to use this as a metaphor for the type of life Hoover lived. He had tabs on almost everyone around him, and yet very few people knew anything about him.

Overall, I can’t really say I was disappointed when I left the theater. As I said, I’m not a big fan of political films to begin with. What I felt was more baffled than anything.

Eastwood and DiCaprio appeared to be a match made in film-heaven, and this movie just didn’t deliver the film that most viewers would expect from such a duo.