J. Edgar may not have taken home any Academy Award nominations, but the film does deserve special accolades for Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. I can’t say that I’m a fan of younger actors who put on makeup to look much older. Usually the illusion takes away from the film. However, in this case, DiCaprio does a stellar job of playing the dual role of a younger insecure J. Edgar and the older J. Edgar shrouded in lies and cover-ups. The biopic tried to expand on the FBI director’s personal life, while simultaneously exploring J. Edgar’s philosophy on secrecy. However, in trying to do both, it fell short of doing either equally well.
The film explores J. Edgar’s relationship with his mother as well as his closest colleague Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). The story spans the FBI director’s fifty years of service to the nation, starting with his humble beginnings. Director Clint Eastwood gives viewers a man who is as paranoid as he is brilliant. The story tries to humanize Edgar’s more ruthless tactics and use of counterintelligence for his own benefit.
Throughout the film, Edgar’s relationship with his confidant Clyde is always hinted at but never really examined. You know that the two share feelings for one another, but the film is afraid to dive into those feelings on more than a surface level. As you watch, you’ll be waiting for something to happen or at least to be said but it never comes about – with the exception of a brief moment at the end. What you’re left with is a love story that lets you down.
The HD visuals look great in 1080p. This is a crisp transfer that brings home the film experience of watching J. Edgar. Eastwood uses a lot of dark scenes to highlight the secrecy. Nothing is lost during the transfer so you can savor those introspective moments where the camera is focused solely on DiCaprio. The DTS-HD Audio gives you a clean dialogue track so that you can enjoy the sound just as much as the visuals. This film focuses more on dialogue to drive the story over a music bed and that favor is echoed in the audio transfer.
The Blu-ray release is scant on special features. The release comes with a DVD that has a short featurette called “J. Edgar- A Complicated Man.” It’s a brief interlude into the real J. Edgar’s life. The Blu-ray has one additional bonus featurette called “J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World”. Once again, it’s a shallow documentary style featurette. If you were hoping for more facts on the man to fill the gaps in the movie, you will be disappointed.
The release also comes with an UltraViolet copy for streaming the movie. There is a new message on the back of Warner releases stating that it does not include the iTunes file. This helps to avoid confusion with past releases that included a digital download.
J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World
J. Edgar- A Complicated Man (DVD)