J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) has been described as “the most powerful man in the world” and this movie shows he was certainly one of the most powerful public figures in America. It is a very classy bopic of Hoover’s professional life, which depicts his first love “The Bureau”, his utter determination and passion for his work, his preparedness to do almost anything to achieve justice and his tenacious work to promote the importance and establishment the first forensic investigations and central collections of criminal records (including the significance of fingerprinting). His personal life is also explored – he is an enigma and most fascinating are his significant relationships – primarily with his mother (by Judi Dench) and his two closest associates Clyde Tolson (by Armie Hammer) and his loyal personal assistant Helen Gandy (by Naomi Watts).
Clint Eastwood has done an excellent job with this. He is one great director! The camerawork is clean, the atmosphere he creates is excellent – he has blended archival footage with movie pieces very well to present a very moody story. I wasn’t a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio for quite some time, but his most recent works have all been very good and this is no exception – his is a superb portrayal of this complex but flawed man. Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer are also very good – my only concern is the “aged” make up – Dench’s has no problems, Di Caprio’s is good, Watts’ is acceptable … but Hammer’s is just not quite right. Is the movie too long? I’m not sure – but I thought it was a great movie anyway – well done.