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J. Edgar

The Most Powerful Man in the World. 

Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Clint Eastwood 
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts  
An image from J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood looks back in time with his most recent production, J.Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the infamous J. Edgar Hoover. The film centres on Hoover as he creates, shapes and moulds an FBI in his image. The film pushes and pulls on our sympathies for the protagonist as we share his passion for the forensic sciences, converting the agency’s smoking room into a lab, but we recoil at his concerted efforts to blackmail Martin Luther King into turning down his peace prize.

Complementing DiCaprio in the cast are Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer (better known for playing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network), as we flit between the creation of the FBI and the dictation of his memoirs to a young member of the bureau. The biopic doesn’t simply explore a purely factual account of the life of such a powerful man but strives to find the detail and the person beneath the legend.

You get the feeling that DiCaprio and Eastwood had slightly different visions which gel together to form a kind of two headed beast; on one side we have the socially awkward, retiring individual with a stammer and yet behind his desk he is a master strategist, moving political players and socialist pieces as he pleases. One thing you cannot fail to see from this masterful film is his love for his country and his willingness to do absolutely anything to safeguard it.

Harry Austin

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Summer Term (35mm)