For a film directed by someone as beloved and accomplished as Clint Eastwood, it’s hard to fathom that such a film would come off so amateur and tedious to sit through. Leonardo DiCaprio goes whole hog for Oscar territory delivering one of the worst performances of 2011 mimicking the drawl of J. Edgar Hoover but often times sounding like a man overplaying his role in a local community theater production in New Hampshire or something. “J. Edgar” has no style to it, nor does it possess an iota of compelling tidbits about Hoover’s life and career. Mostly it places gaudy cinematography above all else and aims to merely gloss over much of what J. Edgar had accomplished or fumbled in to.
“J. Edgar” inadvertently falls in to camp value more times than not with endless performances that are just hilariously over the top, while the story drones on for over two hours exploring the escapades of J. Edgar Hoover. Eastwood takes the time out to explore much of the relationships Hoover held within his life, including the one with his mother, but it’s tough to involve ones self in the proceedings when it can’t seem to bring the material on screen without accidentally making its audience break in to fits of accidental guffaws and eye rolls.
“J. Edgar” often times seems to glorify its subject while Clint Eastwood delivers yet another cinematic humdrum affair for the year that dares to be dull and average and never strives to offer audiences or history buffs something new and interesting to chew on. The film is exceptionally damaging toward DiCaprio who mugs for the camera with his awful accent that often made me cringe and wonder if the actor, who is usually a very strong presence on-screen, actually thought this was a suitable way to represent Hoover onscreen. Meanwhile most of the actors look bored on-screen, particularly Judi Dench who plays an important role in Hoover’s life, but barely seems at all excited to share the screen with DiCaprio.
“J. Edgar” is surely a film that could be accused of being made for the purpose and only for the purpose of winning an Oscar, because as a historical epic it’s dull and panders to academy’s sensibilities, while Eastwood manages to offer up yet another cinematic project that simply fails to re-invent the wheel. Self-serving, self-indulgent and about as dramatically effective as a school play, “J. Edgar” fails to muster up anything interesting about J. Edgar Hoover and instead shamelessly panders for awards at every turn. This is pretty much Eastwood and DiCaprio at their worst, and it’s a waste of talent and time.
Featured within the Blu-Ray is an eighteen minute segment entitled “J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World,” a short biographical feature with interviews from the film’s stars about J. Edgar Hoover and the film’s initial inspirations. There’s also a DVD and Ultraviolet copy of “J. Edgar” for folks who haven’t made the format switch.