Wild Young Minds: J. Edgar

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

J. Edgar

One of the most intriguing persons in the history of American justice. He seemed to have a heart of stone, but at the same time he was believed to have an affair with his second guy, so he was probably gay. On top of that, he lived with his strenuous mother until he was 40. So who was this man? J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI for almost 50 years, who had this function during the presidency of 8 presidents.

The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, focuses on J. Edgar in his late years, when he dictates his memoirs to different agents/writers (among who Ed Westwick aka Chuck in Gossip Girl). During this, he kind of looks back on his past, how he first arrived at the FBI as a young (and quite autistic) boy and how he climbed up to be the person who made the FBI the organisation it is today: succesful but not very trustful.

The main case that gets focus, is the horrible kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's baby. With help of new technology, the FBI is able to catch the murderer. This is a very tensious and important case, I wish they had shown more of these kind of cases, as well as the relationship with the maffia, which people accused J. Edgar of. Unfortunately, nothing's been said about that in the film.

Leonardo Dicaprio (who has become a bit chubby these days) shows an excellent performance of the mysterious J. Edgar. He and Clyde Tolson, his second hand (played by Armie Hammer, who again had a role in Gossip Girl) formed a professional couple and showed us love, not love that is out there (they never were a romantic couple in public) but subtle.

Since we see J. Edgar, Clyde Tolson and the loyal secretary of J. Edgar, Helen Gandy (played by Naomi Watts) when they're young (about 20) and when they're old (about 80), the makers had to come up with a resolution to this problem. They decided to let Leonardo Dicaprio and his fellow actors perform both the old and the young characters, which lead to exaggerated and fake make-up, which had to make them look old. Not really my thing.

But all in all, this crime biopic is very interesting. Though J. Edgar is a hard guy, who wasn't always fair (for instance, he didn't arrest a single person himself, he never did the dangerous work but made everybody believe he did), somehow, in the end, you have respect for him. Or well, respect, I don't know, at least you feel empathy for him. The way he can't hand himself over to his love for Clyde Tolson and the way he barely had a social life. I felt sorry for him. Though I must not say that too loud, because who knows... I might get the FBI go after me ;)

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