[Last Film I Saw] J. Edgar (2011)

Title: J. Edgar
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Dustin Lance Black
Music: Clint Eastwood
Cinematography: Tom Stern
Leonardo DiCaprio
Armie Hammer
Naomi Watts
Judi Dench
Josh Lucas
Dermot Mulroney
Ed Westwick
Zach Grenier
Denis O’Hare
Jessica Hecht
Damon Herriman
Lea Thompson
Stephen Root
Jeffrey Donovan
Ken Howard
Josh Hamilton
Ary Katz
Rating: 5.9/10

Mr. Eastwood’s prolific offerings in the director chair after his MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004) triumph has taken a tumble recently after the bad reviews and box office lethargy of HEREAFTER (2010) and INVICTUS (2009), however the much-hyped J. Edgar Hoover’s biography unsuccessfully backfires again although it have a much more capable cast and piquant fodder at Mr. Eastwood’s disposal, the common view is that, like INVICTUS, the film is wanting a revelational catharsis which is an episodic gambit in the genre.

First of all, one bizarrely uneasy pain-in-the-neck is the make-up of the elder Hoover and Clyde (Watts’ Helen Gandy can be spared since the screen-time of her senior persona has been less-executed), which uncannily more zombie-lized than the verisimilitude process of natural ageing. DiCaprio and Hammer still squeeze inside my yearly Top 10 list in the lower ranks, in spite of being marred by the artificial skin, hair and wrinkles, their profound endeavour to render their respective characters cannot be bypassed (although wearing dead-mother’s skirt is over-exploited). Meanwhile it is a remorseful crime to leave Dench and Watts underused (the mother role clearly has an essential influence on Hoover’s queer behaviour and Dench has very meagre screen time to enhance the multitude while Watt’s long-term secretary has been left no room to testify her distinction except the brief last-moment messiah in destroying the secret files before Kennedy could get them.

The film has inherited a sombre hue resembles Eastwood’s previous vehicles (MYSTIC RIVER 2003, MILLION DOLLAR BABY etc.), which is a rightful choice according to the milieu, but the jumpy narrative does has an unfriendly towards audience who are not so familiar with Hoover’s heroic undertakings and the American history (foreigners like myself for example), thus a sense of detachment is destined. The gay-romance between Hoover and Clyde is basically dealt with a circumspect caution, but the overt “I love you” confession is betraying the whole scheme, as if it is the only way to dictate their life-long closeness to the face of the spectators.

So, J. EDGAR cannot restore Eastwood’s esteeming reputation and after his “talking to a chair” performance and the ominous feedback of his acting project TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012), there is a late-bloomer’s eulogy in the wind.



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