Dirty Harry takes on dirty Hoover in the latest from director Clint Eastwood - J. Edgar. The biographical drama takes a look at the life and times of America's most famous crime fighter, J. Edgar Hoover. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the title role of J.Edgz (as he's known on the street) as the film follows his major cases and career feats; accomplishments that made him both feared and admired. Mostly told in flashbacks while the elderely FBI director dictates his memoirs to young agents, it also explores his highly controversial private life which included rumours of homosexuality and cross-dressing. At the fore is the relationship between J.Edgz and his second in command, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), which spanned some 45 years both professionally and - as suggested in the film - romantically.
J. Edgar should have been a better than what it is. On paper it has all the right ingredients; DiCaprio leads a tremendously accomplished cast including Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas and yet another solid turn from Hammer after his breakout role as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. DiCaprio is as incredible as always. After all, this is the guy who was nominated for his first Oscar when he was 19 (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?). As someone who has never done a rom-com or laugh-out loud comedy, J. Edgar is full of the heavy-hitting dramatic material DiCaprio has sought out in his career. His performance was nominated for a best actor Golden Globe earlier this year and although he missed out on the Oscar nomination, J. Edgar rests on his relentless performance. But like another biographical film out at the moment - The Iron Lady - DiCaprio is delivering a five star performance in a three star film. Unsure whether it wants to be a historical thriller or a Brokeback Mountain-esque romantic drama, J. Edgar ends up sitting uncomfortably between the two. Dustin Lance Black - the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind Milk - is the scribe and director Clint Eastwood does his best to direct around the muddled script problems that should have been fixed in the draft stages. The final nail in the coffin, however, is the atrocious make-up effects. If you thought it seemed ridiculous no one realised Glenn Close or Janet McTeer's characters in Albert Nobbs were women, their make-up seem like Pan's Labyrinth compared to J. Edgar. Naturally in a story spanning many decades the actors need to age, but the powdery faces and prosperous prosthetics are so ridiculous that by the end of the film Armie Hammer's face looks like it's about to peel off. Built like Oscar bait, there is some merit to J. Edgar. It's just a shame its attributes are stuffed behind shoddy storytelling and even shoddier makeup.