J. Edgar

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This bio–pic of America’s most famous Fed puts Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of J. Edgar Hoover, the driving force behind the FBI for 50 years. If this sounds like an action–packed subject, don’t be fooled. Instead, the movie focuses on Hoover’s antipathy toward anarchists, obsession with filing, flirtations with an alternative lifestyle, and his struggles for the legitimacy of the Bureau. Told in non–linear style, the narrative jumps around to key moments in FBI and Hoover history.

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Though about 20 instances of profanity are cut and some disturbing images of violence are trimmed, the overall mood of J. Edgar is dark, portraying Hoover as an often tormented man out of step with popular opinions of the day. Hints of a gay relationship are present, though less prevalent than Hoover’s attitude of fanaticism, which may be troubling or too challenging for younger audiences.

Does the topic of J. Edgar merit investigation?…

Director Clint Eastwood approaches his complex subject with a certain degree of reverence (aka lack of a sense of humor), but an air of cynicism hangs over the portrayal, as though saying, “Maybe Hoover did some good things, but it was largely at the expense of our civil liberties.” It takes some effort to make crime–fighting seem ambiguous.

Marty Nabhan—ClearPlay G-Man

Rated R for brief strong language; 137 min; Directed by Clint Eastwood
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