J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood‘s biopic about the controversial first director of the FBI, opened yesterday, but something about it doesn’t feel right.
The movie, which is mostly set in the District, hops between the bureau’s early decades, when J. Edgar Hoover was an earnest young anti-Bolshevik, and the final decade of his life, when he became increasingly concerned with his legacy. It posits, as many biographers have, that Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) had a a nearly unrequited romantic relationship with his colleague Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), and it follows their close companionship into their twilight years. No matter how paranoid, feeble, or curmudgeonly they become, the two are inseparable. But we’re not sure DiCaprio and Hammer’s portrayals of the older Hoover and Tolson quite work.
It’s not really the script, by Dustin Lance Black, that’s the problem, nor Eastwood’s handling of it. Maybe it’s the makeup? At any rate, we’re pretty sure all of J. Edgar’s problems could’ve been fixed with just a slight tweak to the cast.
“I see right through you! You’re a scared, heartless, horrible little man!”
“Don’t get in the car. You can walk back.”
“But, director, we have lunch. We don’t miss lunch, no matter what, remember?”
“Is that legal?”
“Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe.”
Illustrations by Brooke Hatfield