Watching a good biopic gets the viewer engrossed with the subject. You finish that movie, and want to go right out and pick up a book all about the movie’s subject. Think–Amadeus. I watched that brilliant film, and all I wanted to do was crank up the Don Giovanni seek a hefty tome all about the composer. This is where J. Edgar and My Week with Marilyn both fail.
J. Edgar is Clint Eastwood’s dramatic take on the life of J. Edgar Hoover. I expected it to be a riveting film, it was not.
DiCaprio does a fine enough performance, it’s the J. Edgar Hoover that drags the film down. Hoover is paranoid and whiny, and hardly imposing. I couldn’t get interested in him.
DiCaprio, and the other main actors, played their roles both young and old. For the older roles, they were dressed up with prosthetics and makeup. Sure, they looked old, if a little stiff-faced, but the actors still have young voices. This is distracting, and really feels like you are watching young people in old people makeup, instead of convincingly older actors. Eastwood should have just cast real old people, with old people voices, for those roles.
My Week with Marilyn suffered from similar shortcomings. Michelle Williams’ portrayal of Monroe is spot on, but I finsihed the film with complete disinterest in Marilyn Monroe personally.
Monroe comes across as vapid, self-centered, and completely unintelligent, with the pure luck of stumbling across brilliantly on celluloid. So she’s got the looks and the luck. This is not someone I am interested in knowing more about.
The other characters in the film, both male and female, are all enamored with her. Even Laurence Olivier, who is endlessly frustrated with her inability to remember the most basic of lines, is under her spell by the end. I spent the movie asking “WHAT are they seeing that I am not?!?! She’s not magical! She’s ANNOYING.”
Williams does deserve high praise for her work in the role. Williams evaporates, and completely becomes Monroe, even to the tiniest mannerism. Williams’ performance is brilliant.
Emma Watson also has a small part in the film, and shows she’s got plenty of life after Harry Potter. The girl has talent, and we can expect big things from her in the next few years.