J. Edgar is not perfect. The movie and the man that the movie is about are both not perfect in fact. However, J. Edgar the movie is as complex and intense as the man himself. Clint Eastwood directs in a documentary-style that proves a little long and at time drags. The narrative is a little confusing at times as like a history lesson we are taken through J. Edgar Hoover’s journey (or his own vision of his journey) through flashbacks from WWII to the Civil Rights Movement. He arguably made the FBI what it is today, creating the fingerprint system, organizing/cataloguing the Congressional Library, and inventing the creation of a damning confidential file. In fact, J. Edgar used this file as leverage on many presidents, including Kennedy (and J. Edgar also thought he could stop Martin Luther King Jr. as well). His work consumes him and is everything to him but at the end we can wonder what does he have to show? Much of J. Edgar’s self-consciousness stems from his mother (proving that we can indeed blame our parents for everything) played by Judi Dench. Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant as J. Edgar, to the point that we forget he is acting. It also made me realize that DiCaprio chooses difficult roles and is an underrated actor who has actually only played one likable character, Jack in Titanic. Armie Hammer is simply wonderful, working as the most grounded and sympathetic character. Hammer plays Clyde, J. Edgar’s right-hand man in the FBI and also J. Edgar’s secret love. In a time when J. Edgar cannot admit to the world or even his own mother (she tells him she would rather have a dead son) that he is gay, he cannot come to terms himself with his true feelings for Clyde. Much of their relationship is a guessing game to viewers as the only time the men confront each other is when tension and frustration have reached a climax (lots of glass thrown). There is love there and a simple gesture like holding hands or when a much older J. Edgar kisses Clyde on the forehead and tells him he needs him shows this. Speaking of looking older, the makeup is not done well unfortunately. If everyone looks like that when they are in their sixties or seventies then we do not have a lot to look forward to. I am sure that DiCaprio and Hammer (who I underestimated even though he was good in The Social Network and made us want there to be two of him) will get Oscar nominations. I do not think the movie is strong enough to get nominated as a whole. There are a lot of strong performances but not very many strong movies. One last note of frustration: it is a shame that the artsy, indie films are never released wide. It is hard to track them down to see and inevitably they are always the ones nominated. Give us a chance; I think that more people are interested in films that actually give us something to think about. Although I could be wrong as it is not the imperfect J. Edgar that was number one this past weekend but Immortals.