- Clint Eastwood,
- Dustin Lance Black,
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Geoff Pierson, Naomi Watts, Josh Hamilton, Judi Dench, Gunner Wright, Kaitlyn Dever,
- As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life.
Any movie in which the longtime FBI honcho features as the central character must supply some insight into what made him tick, or suffer from the reality that the Bureau's exploits were far more interesting than the bureaucrat who ran it -- a dilemma J. Edgar never rises above.
J. Edgar turns out to be one of the worst ideas anybody's ever had, a mendacious, muddled, sub-mediocre mess that turns some of the most explosive episodes of the 20th century into bad domestic melodrama and refuses to take any clear position on one of American history's most controversial figures.
All of it makes for a rollicking, outsize tale of overweening ambition and palace intrigue, but J. Edgar instead plays it safe in a turgid, back-and-forth series of tableaux that look as if they were filmed from behind a scrim soaked in weak tea.
It is flawed but ultimately captivating.
J. Edgar shines a probing beam of light on a man who was widely feared, often disliked, but rarely understood.
Whether unintentionally or by design, the movie never really makes a case either for or against the troubled figure at its center.
No stranger man - not even Nixon - has ever been at the center of an American epic.
It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings. Not DiCaprio, though.
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