J. Edgar Reviews
Eastwood, forsaking his deliberate rhythms for something speedier and wordier, turns J. Edgar into a dramatic essay about how the law and repression, heroism and corruption, fused in Hoover.
Mr. Eastwood doesn't just shift between Hoover's past and present, his intimate life and popular persona, he also puts them into dialectic play, showing repeatedly how each informed the other.
The film ages DiCaprio convincingly, Hammer less so. Still, Hammer almost steals the show. While DiCaprio has some noteworthy scenes, it's tough to forget it's the actor playing Hoover. In contrast, Hammer and Watts disappear into more subtle roles.
Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.
The film moves fast, but Eastwood's touch is light and sure, his judgment sound, the moments of pathos held just long enough. And he cast the right star as his equivocal hero-fool.
This may be a closety film about a closety character, but the tensions between Eastwood's direction and the script he's directing keep us off-guard in an intriguing way. The results, whatever one thinks of them, may be square, but they're all of a piece.
This far-from-perfect film is hobbled by uneven performances and a script studded with historical bullet points. But it's a strong tribute to Eastwood's personal vision.
True to Eastwood's understated nature, J. Edgar offers the "tasteful" treatment of such potentially salacious subject matter, though a more outre Oliver Stone-like approach might have made for a livelier film.