Directed by Clint Eastwood, with an amazing performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972, this is a long and sometimes difficult to watch movie. It basically chronicles the life of the enigmatic figure of Hoover who shaped the FBI and served under eight different presidents until his death in 1972, when Nixon was in power.
The makeup was difficult, but I thought they did a great job. How do you make a movie where the lead character is sometimes 24 years old, other times 70 years old, and mostly middle-aged? Since the story was basically narrated by Hoover as his life story, there is no clear timeline from a young man to an old man. We start out seeing the old man telling the story, and jumping back and forth.
This worked for me and I didn’t get confused.
The lighting and the cinematography appeared purposely done so the whole thing looked like a movie of the 1940ies, with the colors somewhat off at times, giving it almost a black and white feeling.
The downfall of the movie is that it’s about a real person’s life, and no matter how enigmatic and strange that person is, there isn’t enough action in it to make it interesting enough for a 137 minute movie. So the thing went on and on.
I learned a lot about J. Edgar Hoover that I didn’t know. I certainly had not read any biography. So walking out of the movie was like having just read the Cliffnotes of a biography, and I felt very satisfied that I had gotten my money’s worth. I had a colorful and entertaining history lesson.