Saturday, November 26, 2011

Movie: J. Edgar

I liked this movie a lot. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it avoids the easy path of simply hammering on Hoover for being a power-mad politico (which he most certainly was) and instead focuses on him more as a person, and on the interaction between the personal Hoover and the public Hoover. The relationship between Hoover and his deputy Clyde Tolson is handled with particular facility, both in the way that it provides an excellent historical lesson regarding how much things have changed in a short space of time, and in  the way it serves to humanize Hoover.

NYT reviewer Manohla Dargis, whose reviews I usually like less than A.O. Scott's, gets this one exactly right. I especially liked the ending:
Instead, Mr. Eastwood explores the inner life of a lonely man whose fortress was also his stage. From there, surrounded by a few trusted souls, he played out a fiction in which he was as heroic as a James Cagney G-man (despite a life with a mother Norman Bates would recognize), but finally as weak, compromised and human as those whose lives he helped crush.

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