During his lifetime, J. Edgar Hoover would rise to be the most powerful man in America. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years, he would stop at nothing to protect his country. Through eight presidents and three wars, Hoover waged battle against threats both real and perceived, often bending the rules to keep his countrymen safe. His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted, if ever elusive, prize.
Hoover was a man who placed great value on secrets—particularly those of others—and was not afraid to use that information to exert authority over the leading figures in the nation. Understanding that knowledge is power and fear poses opportunity, he used both to gain unprecedented influence and to build a reputation that was both formidable and untouchable.
He was as guarded in his private life as he was in his public one, allowing only a small and protective inner circle into his confidence. His closest colleague, Clyde Tolson, was also his constant companion. His secretary, Helen Gandy, who was perhaps most privy to Hoover’s designs, remained loyal to the end… and beyond. Only Hoover’s mother, who served as his inspiration and his conscience, would leave him, her passing truly crushing to the son who forever sought her love and approval.
I had high hopes for this film, as I’m fascinated by the early days of the FBI and the conspiracy theories surrounding J. Edgar Hoover. Unfortunately, the film did not live up to my expectations. The story was very choppy, bouncing back and forth from Hoover’s early years to just before his death. A senior Hoover is giving his memoirs, and talking about his glory days. I would have loved to get a deeper insight into Hoover’s psyche and have had more depth into the forming of the FBI and his political ideals. Instead, we’re only shown a Hoover who rants against the Bolsheviks (Communists), and his forming of the FBI seemed to be set on fast-forward. There were brief glimpses of the take down of several infamous mobsters, a lengthy investigation into the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, and too much time spent on Hoover’s private life.
It felt like the screen writer read through Hoover’s Wikipedia entry and had to mention every single allegation about his private life. Which was pretty ridiculous since Hoover kept his private life private and certainly didn’t discuss it in any memoir. I wouldn’t have minded a brief look at his private life, but I wanted to see more of a concentration on his work as that was his priority in life. The social drama was very slow and drawn out. Though, the political drama was much too rushed and not explained well.
The saving grace of the film was the acting. Leonardo DiCaprio did an amazing job as both young and old Hoover. He was pure perfection in the role. There were a slew of other famous faces in brief cameo appearances, each bringing their talent but never over-shadowing. Supporting actors Naomi Watts (as Hoover’s secretary Helen Gandy), Armie Hammer (as Hoover’s protégé and close friend Clyde Tolson), and Judi Dench (as Hoover’s mother) were all stunning in their performances as well.
J. Edgar arrived onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download February 21 from Warner Home Entertainment Group.
The Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD include an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.