I am generally cautious about Clint Eastwood films. I was not a fan of Gran Torino, but after hearing that Dustin Lance Black was writing, Leornardo Di Caprio was starring and they would be highlighting Hoover’s struggle with his sexuality I was more than happy to go and see the film.
The film charts J. Edgar Hoover’s life as he builds the FBI up, beats the communist threat in America, liaises with government officials and most importantly expands on the relationship between himself and Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). Being a man who kept government secrets and swept things under the rug only for him to be such an enigma makes for engrossing storytelling. As his power in government increases he fights with his inner demons over his feelings for the man closest to him which leads to a sad, but poignant ending.
…the subtle approach is just as rewarding…
With Dustin Lance Black behind the words and Eastwood at the wheel we are given a terrific view of American history seen through the eyes of the man who built the FBI. The gay subtext is upsetting, but the times were different. I was hoping that he would be portrayed in the way Hoover was played by Bob Hoskins in Nixon; vicious yet flamboyant, but the subtle approach is just as rewarding in the characterisation.
With a supporting cast boasting Judi Dench and Naomi Watts, J. Edgar should not be missed. Strangely enough this film seems to have been swept under the carpet by other large films appearing, but make no mistake this is a film that will grip you till the end.
Image courtesy of Warner Bros