6 November 2011 | qq107
Great but not without its flaws
Just got back from a screening in Vancouver~ Thanks to Clint Eastwood, it was almost free (only one dollar per ticket) I will try to keep my review spoiler-free~
Personally, I thought it was a great film. Not exceptional in anyway, but still great. The tone reminds me a bit of Changeling. Makes sense since the stories are from the same period. I have to say, with Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Dustin Lance Black all on board, I was kind of expecting something a bit more than this.
I thought the weakest link was the script. It was interesting, but flawed. Also, the story was not very intriguing. Having watched Milk (also written by Black) and really liked how the story unfolded, I was expecting a great story about how J. Edgar Hoover rose to power and how he gradually transformed into the monster he became in the end. But instead, the story was told by shifting back and forth in time countless times, which at some point made me feel emotionally detached from the story and the characters. The bad bad makeup (I guess we can all agree on that~) was also very distracting. The elderly characters looked like wax figures to me.
That said, I really LOVED Eastwood's score. It was moving and really fit the mood of the film. His direction and camera-work were masterful as always. Leo was very convincing as J. Edgar, although I keep on seeing bits and pieces of Howard Hughes in his performance. Judi Dench and Naomi Watts were both great, however the same thing can not be said about Armie Hammer. I thought he was much better in The Social Network. There were a few good moments between him and Leo, but his performance as the elderly Clyde Tolson was darn right awful. I blame the horrible makeup.
As for the Oscars, this film will get a few nominations, but I doubt that it would become a strong contender. Though Leo's performance was not without its flaws, I thought it was more than enough to secure his leading actor nomination. Nods for best art direction, best cinematography and best score are also quite possible.
This film had the potential to become a masterpiece, but fell short of my expectations mainly due to the uneven script. While far from being one of his best, it is nevertheless a welcome addition to Eastwood's portfolio.