I'm just going to say this right off the bat, I really liked this movie, which is strange considering it has been getting panned by critics (as I'm writing this, it currently holds a rating of 41% on Rotten Tomatoes). It's also kind of weird that I'm writing a review for a movie that I liked that everyone else hated when I said in my first post that I have a reputation for hating movies that everyone else likes, but oh well.
To be completely honest with you, I'm not entirely sure why this movie has been getting such bad reviews, considering everything about it was so well done. The acting was GREAT, I think the three main stars (Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer) all deserve Oscar nods for their performances, especially considering that all three have to play their characters at different stages in their lives (when they are all rising stars in the bureau and years later when they are in the twilight years of their lives). Leonardo especially deserves another nomination for this movie because, unlike in The Aviator, which did get him a nomination, I was more able to believe that he was the person he was playing. Not to say that he was bad in The Aviator or anything, it was just the fact that I was well aware that that was Leo DiCaprio and not Howard Hughes on the screen. In this case, I actually believed that he was J. Edgar Hoover. Another thing that merits Oscar consideration is the make up, because whoever did that did a damn fine job of making all of them look elderly. I could actually buy that these people were the older versions of themselves. The story of the movie isn't half bad either, covering the rise and later years of one of America's most influential men and one of the most powerful men of the 20th century. It also covers some of the rumors that had been made about him (cross-dressing, homosexual relationships and so on) and how the steps he took to achieve greater power also led to the people in his life to mistrust and question him. While I do believe that this is a well-made movie, I would also like to point out that this is NOT Clint Eastwood's best movie as a director. In my opinion, that award goes to Mystic River (which stars Kevin Bacon), which is also one of my favorite movies.
I think that maybe the reason why so many people bashed this movie is that they took too long of a look at Eastwood's past career as a director, and were hoping for much more of the same, and thought that this, while it was good, was a bit of a let down. Keep in mind, this is the same man that made Letters From Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Unforgiven, Flags of Our Fathers, Invictus, and so on. So to expect another epic masterpiece like the past ones that he has given us would not be too unfair. Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite movie stars and while I do like him for the iconic actor that he is, I like him even more for the gifted director that he is. I wouldn't full-heartedly recommend that everybody go see this movie, considering the bad reviews that it has gotten, but I would appreciate it if at least one person would brave this movie and let me know the reason behind all the bad press. Did they all catch something I didn't? Did I catch something they did? Or is this just another one of those movies where the critics hate it, but the everyday movie goer loves it? SOMEONE TELL ME!!!
But as for me, I will say that I enjoyed this movie, and give it a grade of B+. It was good, but did move a little slow at times, which may bore some people.