Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yet another J. Edger Review

To sum the movie up, I would say the filmmakers made a valiant effort to capture the enigma that was Hoover, yet for a person who had just read a several hundred page biography on the man, I left the theater confused on several fronts - not a good sign for a biographical film.

HOWEVER, i think it is important to note that real-life Hoover in himself was a confusing character. Perhaps it was not the film falling short but rather the insurmountable task of providing an all encompassing portrayal of Hoover that led to the more confusing parts of the film.

Everyones a critic though, so here are my suggestions if they plan to put out a director's cut of the movie.

1. As mentioned, the flashbacks combined with the present day plot may have been a good idea on paper, but on screen it was not helpful in organizing the film. I think this is largely due to a lack of consensus as to where the film's plot was centered. At first, I thought Hoover writing his biography in the present was serving as a frame for the past events but that slowly unraveled as his flashbacks took on lives of their own, and the present day became less and less about the biography.
Suggestion: Minimize the present day moments, focus on the flashbacks. End the film with one longer present day scene of him dying. Or better yet, structure the movie like the book and start with Hoover's death and then go back through his life.

2. Hoover's emotional scenes were too isolated. The scenes of romantic tension with Tolsen or the now infamous mother's dress scene were powerful moments, but they were largely inconsequential for the rest of the film. The result: Hoover's emotional state seemed to have little impact or influence on the important events. Perhaps this was reflecting the man in real-life but as a filmmaker, these events came across as disjointed episodes with no real bearing on the rest of Hoover's life or the rest of the film.
Suggestion: Do a better job of showing how Hoover's emotions affected his life and career. Or, if this is not the case, do a better job of conveying how isolated Hoover kept himself from everyone else and how that affected his life.

These two suggestion taken into account, I think J Edger could have been a much better film. Still enjoyable though. I would recommend the film but with a prior requirement of reading up on the man in order to avoid being completely lost.


alexrued said...
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alexrued said...

Only a selfish, power-hungry, obsessive man could have accomplished all that Hoover did. The affair with Tolson provided insight to Hoover’s character, helping to explain how he was able to expand the FBI.

Hoover’s relationship with Tolson was a paradox: it appeared to be a kind of sacrifice, but it really proved his selfish nature and obsession with the FBI. Hoover understood that not marrying could damage his reputation, yet he remained unmarried for Tolson’s sake. At the same time, Hoover sacrificed very little in his relationship with Tolson because he essentially made Tolson part of his occupation—Tolson was extraordinarily useful and, because of his love for Hoover, unusually loyal. Unlike a wife, Tolson did not force Hoover to sacrifice any part of his career. Hoover also did not have to relinquish any of the power he was so obsessed with—he was adored as Tolson’s boss and romantic interest.