Kolkata, India, March, 3, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations): Challenges drives people forward and propels them to reach for that rope that will take them higher in life. Leonardo DiCaprio is a classic example of an actor who has travelled through many travails of life but prefers to stand out from the crowd by essaying roles that few would dare to portray. Riding on the recent successes of Inception and Shutter Island, DiCaprio joins hands with premier director Clint Eastwood to pull off a remarkable biopic on J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most feared and respected directors of the FBI.
The movie has been told in a flashback style and opens with J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), aged with gray hair and sitting in his office thinking about his yesteryears. The audiences are taken back to the year 1919 when Hoover starts working at the Justice Department under the aegis of the Attorney General A Mitchell Palmer. An assassination attempt on Palmer fails and takes the movie forward where Palmer loses his job in the heat of countless unsuccessful and unwarranted raids on anti radical groups. At the behest of the new Attorney Generals instructions, Hoover is made the director of the Bureau of Investigation that goes on to become the iconic FBI years later. In the course of swift storytelling, Eastwood lays bare some of the policies of the iconoclastic FBI director in cases such as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the capture of the high profile robber John Dillinger. During this time, the audiences are introduced to the characters of Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), Hoovers private secretary and Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) a lawyer and Hoovers partner in many of his adventures. Hoover is portrayed as a person emotionally controlled by his mother, played by Judy Dench with whom he shares private moments such as discussing how he feels uncomfortable dancing with girls.
Trailer: J. Edgar (English, 2011)
Hoover is depicted as a ruthless dictator who uses his secret files that contain vital references to the personal lives of public personalities to blackmail even the likes of American Presidents such as Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. There is nothing more important to Hoover than the safety of America and it shows how he would go to any end to achieve it. Hidden in the realms of the deep layers of the film is the troubled homosexuality that Hoover shares with his long time partner Tolson. Clintwood does not hesitate to show the global audiences some of the intimate moments that Hoover shares with Tolson. But the troubled sexual repressions take a turn when Hoover tells Tolson that he has a big crush on a girl in Washington at which Tolson goes off into a fitting rage fuelled by jealousy, making Hoover understand that their friendship would be literally over if Hoover becomes involved with a girl.
J. Edgar succeeds in telling a poignant tale that speaks volumes of the rise of FBI from a mere detective agency into a dominating anti-criminal body under the aegis of Hoover. The film is indeed a fitting biopic that shows how modern America should feel indebted to the capabilities of Hoover who brought about fingerprint technologies, library database cards and other forensic methods of criminal tracking. The characters of the film have indeed done full justice to their roles portraying characters with ease and perfection. Credit must certainly go to cinematographer Tom Stern who has imbibed the dark shadowy figures of the stinking past and used them well in the course of Hoovers various confrontations with criminals and gangsters. Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer have shown that they have indeed turned into mature actors who are capable of essaying brilliant roles in mainstream cinema. Scriptwriter Dustin Black of Milk fame as turned around the game yet again with the polished dialogues that take us back to the past.
Last but not the least, the man himself – Leonardo DiCaprio deserves a standing ovation for delivering a persuasive and yet subtle performance as J. Edgar Hoover, FBIs first director. Time has indeed turned the young romantic boy in Titanic into a well versed actor who does not stop until he reaches perfection. The film is indeed a must watch and is expected to be the frontrunner of more of such films from the Eastwood-DiCaprio combination. Would we be fortunate enough? Only time will tell.