Another biopic, another oddly ageing actor...
We were really looking forward to seeing this (a biopic is always good for making us feel intelligent and we've found they can often help to improve our Trivial Pursuit knowledge) but we were left feeling a little bleugh after trudging through 137 minutes (and not just because the caps and jackets were never mentioned - which in itself was disappointing).
The plot staggers between scenes of Hoover as a eager, young agent with big ideas, to an elderly version of the man, elevated in status but empty in himself. DiCaprio's performance can't be criticised; he's strong and believable at all times but the film labours under the weight of some fairly shoddy directing (surprisingly, Clint Eastwood fails to knock this one out of the park) and an inability (consciously or unconsciously, we're not sure) to decide where the film's focus lies.
From what Itchy can gather, Hoover was a talented man with ground-breaking ideas (he was one of the first to understand the importance of fingerprinting) that changed the face of the FBI. He was cleverly sneaky, had great foresight and advocated secret files and wire-taps. However, he was also extremely troubled, dealing with serious "mommy-issues" and a refusal to accept his sexuality.
Between the skeletons in his closet and the secrets he was hiding at the bureau, we reckon Hoover had enough bedroom furniture to give IKEA a run for its money (geddit?!). What disappointed Itchy is that neither of these aspects were examined in-depth and we were left wanting (and not in a good way). Even Judi Dench, as Hoover's omni-present mother, failed to excite us and that's saying something.
The unforgiveable flaw in the film though was the unrealistic prosethis used to age some of the characters. Hoover's liver-spotted noggin wasn't too bad (although, is it just us or did he begin to look suspiciously like Jon Voight?) but when it came to ageing his right-hand man Tolson (played by Armie Hammer - we love his toothpaste, don't you?), we began to wonder if we were watching a comedy. The mask was just too big and obviously fake - at any moment, we expected Tolson to grip his over-sized ears and peel his face off. While this can often make good viewing (we still love watching Ted Danson doing just that in Three Men and a Little Lady), in this case it proved to be incredibly distracting.
Last time Leonardo DiCaprio was on such a sinking ship it won a whole host of awards. Unfortunately for him, Itchy feels this has just been a Titanic disaster