J. Edgar | Chicago Reader

J. Edgar

Rated R 137 minutes 2011

Leonardo DiCaprio packs on the pounds and the prosthetics to play J. Edgar Hoover over a span of more than 50 years, and his feverish commitment to the role propels this long, ambitious, sometimes unwieldy biopic. An unlikely collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), the movie soft-pedals the FBI director's rumored homosexuality and cross-dressing without actually disputing them; he's portrayed as a severely repressed gay man whose lust for power prevented him from accepting the love of his loyal friend and associate director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). There's plenty to argue with here—particularly Black's lengthy treatment of the Lindbergh kidnapping case, which is supposed to convey Hoover's innovations in forensic investigation—but the movie manages to expose the violent, often contradictory passions that made the lawman a menace to the same society he wanted to protect. With Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas as Lindbergh, and the fine character actor Jeffrey Donovan (Changeling) in the thankless role of Robert F. Kennedy.

Film Credits

Official Site: jedgarmovie.warnerbros.com

Director: Clint Eastwood

Producer: Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Robert Lorenz, Tim Moore and Erica Huggins

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench, Ken Howard, Gunner Wright, David Cooper, Jeffrey Donovan, Dermot Mulroney, Denis O'Hare, Damon Herriman, Stephen Root, Jessica Hecht and Josh Hamilton

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