Under the stone-slab “classical” direction of Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio dutifully plays J. Edgar Hoover as an anal-retentive power freak and mama’s boy (Judi Dench is mom). Building the FBI, he strikes fierce poses but remains a weak, petty neurotic. Writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) never digs very far, and Edgar’s dithering, germ-phobic crush on wry, slightly swish agent Tolson (Armie Hammer) is stuck in an empty closet where they fuss and feud, becoming old maids bound by sexless devotion. This blend of history and gossip is well photographed, seems official in a vaguely insolent way, and lingers over the Lindbergh kidnapping case. The small gasps of life are from old Cagney clips. Eastwood has added this new wing to his sprawling movie museum, and Hoover might as well be a statue. 2011.

David Elliott

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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