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J. Edgar

A Clint Eastwood film

An intriguing story about a man who was at odds with himself and, in fact, his country at times, "J. Edgar" paints a portrait of the first director of the FBI. Leonardo DiCaprio is terrific as the overzealous lawman with an overbearing mother (the always-marvelous Judi Dench) and a mysterious sexual identity. Clint Eastwood masterfully directs the film that moves backward and forward in time to unveil snippets of J. Edgar Hoover's private and public lives. Hoover is seen as a younger man in his quest to hunt down "communist radicals" and anarchists such as Emma Goldman (the audience sees her briefly while delivering a speech). Hoover also went on to track down some of the most infamous of Prohibition-era criminals, and we see him at work, where he often takes credit for arrests he himself did not make. He hires as his deputy director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer, "The Social Network"), who impresses Hoover with his good looks and confidence. Although no one can be certain about Hoover's physical relationship with Tolson, they certainly were dear friends who spent a lot of time together. We also see the ties Hoover had with his loyal secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts). DiCaprio is wonderful as Hoover and portrays him as a man who wants to fight against many perceived threats - some of them within himself. We can't be certain about his physical attraction for Tolson, but we can guess that Hoover's mother, who tells him in so many words that she would rather have a dead son than a gay son, could have had such a hold on the man that he couldn't bring himself to act on his impulses. The history of the times through which Hoover lived comes alive in a variety of encounters and crime scenes, the most powerful of which is Hoover's investigation into the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Eastwood cleverly mixes real footage into newsreels the characters watch to create an authentic atmosphere, and he de-saturates the color to make give the movie a "vintage" feel. Although the show depicts criminal justice specialists at work, it's far from an action flick. At times it drags a bit here and there because it is so intensely dialogue-driven. Still, it's an interesting portrayal of complex man, and it's no mystery why this high-quality biopic could very well be mentioned when talk of the Academy Awards begins. Courtesy Linda Cook,
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Directed by: 
Clint Eastwood
Running Time: 
Leonardo Di Caprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench, Ed Westwick
Screenplay by: 
Dustin Lance Black

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