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The interesting and historical J. Edgar has reached local movie theaters with very good performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Judi Dench. The film has a few flaws, but it does give a good account of the man who was the first director of the FBI.
The film follows the life of J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio), the first director of the FBI who was appointed to the position in 1935 by the then Attorney General of the United States. During his 37 years in the position he set up a bureau that sought out many famous criminals, set up a library of information on persons of interest to the federal government and he amassed some unsavory secret files that kept him in his job. His private life with his mother and tawdry long time affair with his assistant Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) plays out intermittently throughout the film.
The acting and make-up are a plus factor with DiCaprio giving an extremely good effort in the role of J. Edgar Hoover. His ability to capture the essence of the man showing the power monger unwavering and stern in the quest for the best possible government bureau should get him an Oscar nod. The skillful make-up prosthetics changes his face showing the character grow older and eerily becoming very reminiscent of the actual man.
In support, Naomi Watts brings Helen Gandy his secretary and loyal devotee to life with a superb performance as the "other" woman in his life. But the first lady to Edgar, his mother played by Dame Judi Dench, in a performance only she can give, stands out beyond any other support character. She would only have to give one expressive look at Edgar in response to a question and it shows volumes.
What I donít like about J. Edgar comes in the presentation. Jumping back and forth from his final year as director to his early life as head of the G-men is very bewildering. I would have enjoyed the film more if Director Clint Eastwood had introduced the character and started from the beginning of his life with the bureau to the final years. I found some sections of the film hard to enjoy, especially the Charles Lindberg case that lost its importance with repetitive flashbacks.
The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras include the featurettes "J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World" and "J. Edgar: A Complicated Man." The first featurette has DiCaprio and Eastwood teaming together to provide an intimate portrait of how Hoover's clean image conflicted with his carefully covered private life. With the second featurette, it simply gives a bit of background on the controversial FBI director. Both are simple explorations without pizzazz.
J. Edgar is rated R by the MPAA for brief strong language, but it also contains a couple of sexual scenes, drug use and crime violence. The film runs two hours and 17 minutes, about 20 minutes too long.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good film that could have been better. (C+)