J. EDGAR is a tough one, with a production pedigree behind it that would’ve safely assumed the film was Oscar bait from the moment it was greenlit. Big Clint directing, Dustin Black screenplay and a cast of class actors from around the globe. The final product is a beautifully, and dutifully, produced film – it looks fantastic, but its biggest problem is the film has no idea what it wants to be.
J. Edgar Hoover was always going to become film fodder, there’s so much meat and mystery around him. His paranoia, homosexuality, invasions of privacy, the formation of the FBI, his family life etc etc are ripe for the picking and J EDGAR the movie tries its best to acknowledge them all but never fully explores any of them.
The result is a film so confused by its own purpose. It jumps from procedural film with the Lindberg baby case right into Edgar being at home and the implied seemingly unhealthy relationship with his mother. But there’s no build up, it just switches, then it jumps to an insinuated tryst between Hoover and Paulson in a 2 line dialogue exchange but is never explored.
I would imagine Eastwood might’ve asked for changes in the script from Dustin Lance Black (who won an oscar for MILK) but then again on a story this expansive where do you focus? Performances are all uniformly strong and its always good to see Naomi Watts on screen. It’s a big movie at 136 minutes, it looks handsome and is directed with the usual assured hand of Eastwood but the film becomes more of a series of vignettes than a proper story.
By no means is this a bad film, it’s just confused. Much like it’s titular character.
J. EDGAR releases on DOWNLOAD, BLU RAY and DVD on JUNE 13, 2012