Wednesday, November 9, 2011
With an annual budget of almost eight
billion dollars, Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) is undoubtedly one of the most
powerful agencies on this planet today. It is also not
exaggerating to characterize FBI's first
leader J. Edgar
Hoover as one of the most powerful officials in American
history. During his long career as the FBI's director until
his death, he served eight presidents and established his
lasting influence in intelligence collection such as
wiretapping, fingerprint, and other forensics techniques on
American public and the abroad.
Written by Dustin Lance Black, director Clint Eastwood's biopic "J. Edgar" (USA 2011 | 137 min.) depicts this mysterious historical figure with little judgment, if any at all, and Leonardo DiCaprio gives an Oscar calibrated performance as the complex J. Edgar Hoover.
Set in 1972, as the Director of FBI, although J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ailing 77-year-old man, he firmly holds his power, along with his right hand man and life time companion, FBI's Associate Director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), as well as his trusted secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts). Constantly intertwined with flashback as early as five decades ago, the film chronicles major events during Hoover's long career at FBI and his personal life that he safeguards away from the public eye.
The film portraits Hoover as a loyal and dedicated patriot, a hot-tempered and demanding boss, a loving and obedient son, a paranoid and suspicious individual, a meticulously dressed and ambitious bureaucrat, an influential and forceful politician, and a ruthless and intelligent lawman. Either love him or hate him, he is undeniably fascinating.
The subtle relationship between J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson is carefully represented in the film. It certainly avoids being another episode of "Brokeback Mountain," but it is also far from an innocent platonic friendship. The film is ambiguous about what happens after the obvious "love at the first sight" between the two, and how Hoover keeps their genuine affection toward each other a secret while the entire FBI has been collecting secrets on everybody else.
Perhaps after all, Hoover is simply that good. You be the judge.