Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Movies: J. Edgar

Trust nobody! That was the moto of J. Edgar Hoover, who was director of the FBI for around 40 years. Clint Eastwood condensed the career and personal development of one of the most important U.S. personalities of the last century into the biographical drama film "J. Edgar" (script by Dustin Lance Black). The movie describes the life of a man who was regarded as the second most powerful person in the U.S. in his time and who was feared by even his presidents ( Hoover was a person who liked to supervise anything and everybody and possessed the power to do it. Eastwood & his script writer deal also with speculations about the FBI director´s shielded private life, especially his alleged homosexuality and the assumed intimate relationship with his assistant Clyde Tolson.

I was impressed how Leonardo DiCaprio impersonated both Hoovers, the young, ambitious and ascending bureaucrat and then 40 years later the older power player who gradually got tired. I believe that if this actor can continue his development he could approach the level of Marlon Brando.

I was enthralled by the economical use of light, which granted the movie a nostalgic patina. The cinematographer (Tom Stern) kept the screen in the dark most of the time, and many scenes looked almost shot in black and white. The thrifty lighting helped me to focus on the actors and the plot.

I share the view of Chris Pandolfi from "Popzara" ( who lauded the film, calling it "a well-researched period drama, complete with accurate costumes, convincing sets, and appropriately nostalgic lighting and color schemes".

My girlfriend was less impressed. She complained that the story was too dark and found the plot confusing because the story was told in too many flash-backs. She also disliked how Hoover was portrayed, especially when Eastwood showed him as a queer dressing in his mother's clothes.

As so often: Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

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