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'J. Edgar' starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer - trailer review

J. Edgar Directed by: Clint Eastwood Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench Rating: R Release Date: November 9, 2011


Thoughts by TSR: Clint Eastwood has made a number of films I’ve liked, but few I’m passionate about. His only recent film I love is Letters from Iwo Jima. Leonardo DiCaprio, on the other hand, is somebody I love nearly every time out (my favorite performance remains Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape). Between Eastwood, DiCaprio, an excellent supporting cast, and a fascinating story, J. Edgar is a film I’m really looking forward to.

There’s a lot I like about this trailer, but I want to touch one of the more questionable aspects first: DiCaprio’s accent. It occasionally sounds good, but sometimes simply sounds like DiCaprio. It’s not a deal breaker, but hopefully he can keep it fairly consistent. One other potential issue I have is the scene with young Hoover. I often find biopics that span lifetimes less interesting than those that focus on specific events. Still, it could be a good opportunity to give some insight into the man Hoover becomes. And I shouldn’t complain if it means Dame Judi Dench gets more screen time.

Other than that I’m really positive about this trailer. The period works looks great, DiCaprio’s old age makeup is decent, and the supporting cast is outstanding. Naomi Watts is always reliable, Dench has a few nice moments, and I really like Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson. His playfulness in the “courting” scenes should be a nice contrast to the brooding, brow-furrowing work we’ll get from DiCaprio.

My biggest question was how Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) would handle Hoover’s alleged homosexuality. You really can’t make a film about Hoover without touching on it in some capacity, but I wasn’t sure how far they’d be willing to go. The trailer doesn’t put it at the forefront, but one sequence in particular plays to it nicely. Dench, in the front seat of a car, turns around. Hoover and Tolson are in the back and Hoover takes Tolson’s hand. The trailer cuts to a tear rolling down Dench’s cheek. The editing of these shots at least hints that the suspected relationship between Hoover and Tolson will play a role in the film.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love the use of J. Edgar’s signature for the title. Great decision. I’ve been curious about J. Edgar for quite some time, and this first look offers hope that it may very well deliver on the promise suggested by the immense talent involved.

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