Stuffy ol' J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood biopic of FBI honcho missing character sizzle

Director Clint Eastwood does American time travel, from the Bolsheviks to Nixon, tracking J. Edgar Hoover’s (makeup-laden Leonardo DiCaprio) life from the birth of the FBI to his death. Hoover’s portrayed as much a hero (for his overhaul of forensics) as a bigot and a liar. With the decade hopping, we’re kept at such a distance it’s near impossible to engage with Hoover’s story--- though DiCaprio does a good impersonation. The supposedly ambiguous love story between Hoover and his “number two man,” Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), isn’t too gripping. Old Tolson’s prosthetic face is distractingly plastic, minimizing any drama between the men in their later years. Naomi Watts and Judi Dench do well enough in their supporting roles as Hoover’s secretary and mother, respectively, but we don’t know them well either. Even writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) couldn’t make this biopic reach its potential.

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