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Running Time:
2 hours, 17 minutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for brief strong language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Leonardo DiCaprio gives a powerhouse performance in this caustic look at the controversial subject's behavior, both public and private.

Additional Info:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... J. Edgar
Josh Hamilton ... Robert Irwin
Geoff Pierson ... Mitchell Palmer
Cheryl Lawson ... Palmer's Wife
Brady Matthews ... Inspector
Gunner Wright ... Eisenhower
David A. Cooper ... FDR
Ed Westwick ... Agent Smith
Naomi Watts ... Helen Gandy
Kelly Lester ... Head Secretary
Judi Dench ... Annie Hoover
Armie Hammer ... Clyde Tolson
Michael Rady ... Agent Jones
Ken Howard ... Harlan Fiske Stone
Scot Carlisle ... Agent Williams
Geoff Stults ... Raymond Caffrey
Allen Nabors ... Agent Appel
Jeffrey Donovan ... RFK

J. Edgar
The film opens in 1919 when  J. Egar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a young man working in the U.S. Department of Justice. Several senators and the attorney general have been firebombed by communists. This incident spurs Hoover's lifelong fear and hatred for communism. Driven by a domineering mother (Judi Dench), J. Edgar targets the communists and is successful at decimating their ranks. But, he employs machiavellian tactics to achieve his goals, landing him the job as the Director of the FBI when he was just twenty-four years old. He employs two stalwarts that will serve him loyally and without question for his entire tenure. The first is his personal secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), the gatekeeper that guarded his activities like a zealot. The second, and most influential, was Clyde Tolson (Arnie Hammer). Tolson would become Hoover's deputy, closest confidant, and possible lover.

The film highlights several relationships that define him, but never takes a solid stance on what was actually true; particularly, the Hoover-Tolson relationship. They were inseparable, eating every lunch, dinner, and spending vacations together. Tolson is clearly played as a homosexual who was unrequitedly enamored with Hoover. But, one of the flaws in J. Edgar is how the office is its focus all the time. Director Clint Eastwood ("Million Dollar Baby") does show them on vacations, but hardly investigates what went on after hours.

Hoover's mother was the only person who's acceptance he craved and needed, and the film depicts her as the driving force behind his need for power and glory. Initially this works, but althogh he was rumored to be a cross dresser, it's not really explored by screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"). He also doesn't take much of a stand on the other troubling parts of Hoover's life, leaving it up to the audience to draw their own conclusions.

Leonardo Dicaprio
gives a memorable performance, but parts of the film are just plain dull. And, this is a fatal flaw considering the tumultuous half-century of American history that J. Edgar covers. It's hardly an inspired work and runs an achingly long hundred and thirty seven minutes. It is a dense character study of an intriguing figure, but it could have been considerably more definitive and salacious in revealing the darker parts in Hoover's notorious life.

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