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Published on November 10th, 2011 | by simeon


J. Edgar

When I first heard about this movie, it intrigued me. When I heard that it starred Leonardo Dicaprio and was directed by Clint Eastwood, I was hooked. And I must say, that with a few small exceptions, the film definitely lived up to expectations for me.

J. Edgar is the story of Hoover’s rise to “power”, as told by J. Edgar Hoover. The movie takes place during three different time periods: when Hoover was just a budding employee of the Department of Justice and his involvement in the creation of the Bureau of Investigation; flash forward to Kennedy’s time in the office of the President of the United States of America, and finally during Nixon’s short-lived administration.

Throughout the film we see the influence that Hoover had in the government at the time. Of course, at the beginning of his career, he had very little. But through lies, deceit and manipulation he quickly became very influential. He began building his “personal files” very early on, which he used to blackmail and coerce government officials into many things, but most of all to keep his position as head of the FBI.

Throughout the film we see J. Edgar Hoover’s struggle with his controlling mother, his sexuality and his political opponents. His mother, Annie Hoover, played by Dame Judi Dench, saw Hoover as the savior of their family name. It had been disgraced in her eyes by his mentally ill father. She was his guiding voice in all areas of his life, including appearance, stature and his sexuality.

We see Hoover make advances towards Helen Gandy, played by Naomi Watts, who is a typist who becomes his personal assistant his entire life. Hoover’s demeanor around her is awkward at best, and she makes it very clear that she is focusing on her career. Shortly after the creation of the Bureau of Investigations he meets Clyde Tolson, played by Armie Hammer of The Social Network fame. It quickly becomes obvious that there is chemistry between these two.

The film takes us all the way to Hoover’s death and the many things he has accomplished, or perhaps did not accomplish, in between. Remember that I said that this a story of J. Edgar Hoover as told by the man himself. This plays into the film in a very great way. Overall, this is definitely a must-see film as it is a great drama sprinkled with spots of humor. I can see a trio of Oscar nominations with this film for Clint Eastwood in directing, and for Leonardo Dicaprio and Armie Hammer in acting.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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