Written and directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar follows the life of J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his ascent to the position of director of the F.B.I. from the 20’s until his death in 1972. After an uneventful date with the ambitious Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), he hires her as his lifelong secretary as he continually extends his aggressive reach of the law. Battling the mafia and suspected communists while spying on whomever he pleases, Hoover makes numerous enemies and keeps extensive files on political figures-namely the Kennedys and the alleged lesbian excursions of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The film also focuses heavily on the Lindbergh kidnapping case as well as Hoover’s deputy Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and their long rumored romance together as he butts heads with whoever gets in his way.
While this film has a proven cast and director, it is marred with a series of disjointed scenes that fail to tell much of a compelling story. Individually there are some interesting arcs, but overall J. Edgar simply doesn’t engage its audience with a continuing narrative to enjoy. I admired both Leonardo Dicaprio and Naomi Watts’ performances, (even with some suspect make-up) – but it is unfortunate that the script failed to fully utilize their talents. While this film suffers due to an insufficient plot, exceptional acting saves it from oblivion.
3 stars out of 5