I was cheated. I saw the trailer and thought the movie was about a man building an institution, the trails and tribulations between the black and white where it’s more grey and how one man can overcome or not.
You see what I mean, right? Well, for those who think that’s what they are in for. Let me set your expectations straight, it’s a love story that glosses over the how criminal investigation was brought into modern times. Now you’re asking, Hoover was never married so what kind of love story is that? It wasn’t about his love for his vocation either. The story is centered around him and his deputy, Clyde Tolson. That was where the film failed me. Nothing wrong with a good love story but if that’s how it’s marketed and that’s what I was expecting, which I wasn’t.
I went in thinking I’ll find out more about how the FBI came into being but I was led through a love story that didn’t even throw light on the man in question. Sure, it is painful to be in love with someone you can never have. Straight or gay, it hurts, it’s painful and probably makes you do crazy things like maybe keep crazy personal files of people in power or yell at subordinates, although in his case I doubt that’s why he was a little of a strange character. I’m just miffed that after all that J. Edgar Hoover did for the FBI, his biopic just comes down to the fact that he MIGHT be gay and that he MIGHT be in love with his deputy. What about the possible abuse of power, messing with evidence, struggling with right and wrong? Nope, nothing, nada … sure, there were some clues here and there but by and large, it was about being in love with someone you can’t have. There’s lots of stories out there that is about that. Did we seriously have to use J. Edgar Hoover as a backdrop for such a plot?
I think not.
So my take, wait for the DVD or when it’s showing on TV because it’s still worth the watch for Leonardo’s acting. That man sure knows how to act. He was impressive as the egoistic head of a major government department who struggled with insecurities like all of us. He plays vulnerability and arrogance with such subtle grace that you are drawn to sympathise with a character who isn’t typically like-able.