Film Review: Leonardo DiCaprio Embodies the G-Man in ‘J. Edgar’

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CHICAGO – Much of history is determined by the petty quirks and strange psychosis of “great leaders.” J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director for 48 years, worked hard to hide his very nature by squelching the nature of others – enemies, friends and perceived enemies. Leonardo DiCaprio is Hoover in “J. Edgar.” Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This is director Clint Eastwood’s history of J. Edgar Hoover the man, and Hoover as the director of a shadow government of the United States through the FBI. Using U.S. tax dollars, Hoover built an impenetrable wall of power, based on his concept of law and order, with no repercussions toward himself, despite a closeted life of vague sexuality. Leonardo DiCaprio captures all the duality, hypocrisy and fear that Hoover possessed, in a performance that unabashedly communicates the multi-faceted megalomaniac.

The film begins with an older J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio, in all ages), around the time of the John F. Kennedy administration. He feels the grip of the Kennedys on his office, including Attorney General Robert (Jeffrey Donovan). To counteract this pressure, he begins to dictate his memoirs. This is the basis for the story, as the history jumps around from an old to young Hoover, Director of the FBI under a succession of U.S. Presidents, from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon.

Hoover’s history includes his mother (Judi Dench), a firm matriarch who took a boy with a speech impediment and forced him into manhood. Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), is Hoover’s loyal secretary, a co-conspirator on the maintenance of his power, keeping secret files on his detractors. Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) is Hoover’s second-in-command, a constant companion and presence in his life, a relationship that has been viewed in many ways through the prism of history. From his takeover of the Bureau in 1924, to his death in 1972, J. Edgar Hoover was a life as a contradiction in terms.

“J. Edgar” opens everywhere on November 3rd. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Josh Hamilton, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas and Jeffrey Donovan. Screenplay by Dustin Lance Black. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “J. Edgar”

On the Case: Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover and Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in ‘J. Edgar’
On the Case: Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover and Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in ‘J. Edgar’
Photo credit: Keith Bernstein for Warner Bros. Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “J. Edgar”

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