Saturday, 21 January 2012



F.B.I.: Formidable. Bold. Influential.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas & Judi Dench. Director: Clint Eastwood. Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black

Finally...the greatest actor and the greatest director of the moment have teamed up for a long-awaited, highly anticipated collaboration. As Leonardo DiCaprio increases his classic portfolio of defining roles, Clint Eastwood shows with every turn behind the camera that he may be just as good as a director as he is an actor...if not better. Now the duo produce a gold standard, silver lining star turn that could make the duos of Eastwood and Damon and DiCaprio and Scorsese jealous.

'J. Edgar' is a biographical drama film about J. Edgar Hoover the former director of the FBI who helped bring criminals like John Dillinger to justice (for more on that and if you don't like history books check out Michael Mann and Johnny Depp's great 'Public Enemies') and revolutionised crime-fighting by introducing fingerprint identification. Clearly this talented but troubled man was an influential figure in America, politics, the world and justice. So who better to take him on then 'Dirty Harry' and a man that's played everyone from Romeo to Howard Hughes?

Leo brings the Hughes mental method acting into this role (literally staring in the mirror and repeating himself again) as he plays another troubled character with due dignity, respect and reflective and focused, self-analysis. Like 'The Aviator', 'Shutter Island' and even 'Inception' DiCaprio plays confliction with conviction and yet again produces another hard-worked, award-worthy classic performance. The files of Leo's career have opened up with another defining, influential, inspired performance.

As for Eastwood he adds another big picture to his filmography reel of directing. Yet again Clint exacts honesty and truth, yet dignity and poise on a respectful but insightful piece. There have been some 'too little' and 'too much' criticisms about the issue of Hoover's alleged homosexuality in this film but don't be fooled Eastwood and DiCaprio give a dignified portrayal with all due respect and understanding. Yet again Clint gives a subtle but sublime direction to his movie that shows even these days you can still tell a great story without revealing too much and rubbing it all in the audiences faces. Those cheap gossip hunters better look for a film with no scruples.

This is a real piece and from the classic cinematography that echo's Eastwood's 'Changeling' capturing of America of the past, this looks perfect. At times the film feels uneasy, but that's only because of the nature of the plots and back stories, time and tide. Naomi Watts and Josh Lucas add to this film in ways of support as does Judi Dench as this British national treasure puts back on her crown of Hollywood royalty. Still it's Armie Hammer that almost steals the show. After cloning himself to play twins in'The Social Network', this young star shows he has the arm and hammer to play two versions of himself yet again. From youth to old age he stands next to our generations great in DiCaprio with all his talent and conviction. Armie Hammer and all the emotion he brings to this portrait may just realise soon enough just how good a supporting actor he really is.

From the public debate to the private affairs this contemporary great is mind-blowing in all it's personal and powerful moments. This movie is moving and touching at times, while at others blunt and direct and what results is the perfect character study by Eastwood and DiCaprio of a man who influenced so much in the public eye but found it hard to control so much in his personal life.

Opening the book on history but sticking to the script of it's own story 'J. Edgar' has something to say if we like it or not. Flashing between the seasons of Hoover's life and his influence on everyone from Al Capone to the Kennedy's this film shows just how much influence this man had over the decades of American history. With this film it's clear it's director and actor's own influence over the modern day is going to last for decades. What a legacy. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


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