Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

‘J. Edgar:’ Flat

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on November 26, 2011

So, ‘J. Edgar’ is interesting, but not emotionally moving.  That sums it up. The movie is not boring, but the person is. He is narcissistic. He wants to be famous. He lies to do that. He creates no emotional tension. I learned a lot: a lot of history, that is. I did not learn about his relationships. I mean, I did, but not in an emotional way. So, should you see the movie? Well, yes, to be included in popular culture, I suppose you should.  Should you see the movie to be moved? No! This is a dry historical movie that tells you a lot about history, that many of you probably know, but people like me, need to be re-educated. Otherwise, the movie disappoints. The characters don’t really pull at you. That’s too bad. If you are going to spend a couple of hours living with these personalities, it is better to care about them. I think. In ‘J. Edgar’ it is hard to care. Still, it is interesting, the history of the FBI, that is.

2 Responses to “‘J. Edgar:’ Flat”

  1. Jon said

    While I agree that the movie is not emotionally moving, it is interesting in more than just historical terms. As for the story telling, cinematography, I was intrigued by the use of muted color (with notable exceptions) in the scenes from the distant past. As for the more intriguing aspect of repressed sexuality, there was enough on-screen chemistry to make relationship plausible, if not totally convincing. Finally the flashbacks and reinvestigation of the flashbacks are central to the telling of the tale and the gaining of the understanding of the people involved. In summary, I did care about the people, but as you note, I would have liked to care more about them.

  2. Thanks, Jon. Movies, like so many things in like are so much about expectations. Every time I experience a movie, I want to feel like I have entered the emotional interior of the character. When this does not happen, I have a sense of disappointment. Perhaps that parallels my social interactions as well. Still, as you say, there are a lot more things going on in a movie than having the audience enter the emotional interior. You nicely point out that I need to put more weight in the other elements of good film making. Further, as the movie does illustrate the narcissistic elements of J. Edgar’s personality, suggests a certain shallowness within. So, maybe the movie was flat because J. Edgar was flat. Maybe his flatness was part of his defensive structure to deal with his overwhelming ambition and his need to please his mother. When I think of the movie that way, I appreciate the dynamics that may be at play. Thanks, as always, for stimulating new thoughts.

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