When I went into the film, I was hoping that director Clint Eastwood would ignore the rumors about Hoover’s sexuality and those about his cross-dressing and focus on the career of one of the most controversial men of the 20th century. Unfortunately, too much of the story is focused on the rumors about Hoover’s personal life. Writer Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for writing the film “Milk,” seems eager to focus on Hoover’s supposed sexuality at the expense of everything else. Such rumors have existed for years but this film will likely add credence to them. Fortunately, news outlets like the Washington Post have tried to clarify the facts behind such myths.
It should be noted that Leonardo DiCaprio does a strong job depicting Hoover from his youth through his last days serving our nation. His performance—which creates a strong-willed but vulnerable character-- will likely earn him an Oscar nomination. Despite his obvious flaws, DiCaprio plays Hoover as a man who is trying to do what he believes is best for his country.
J. Edgar Hoover was a controversial figure for good reason. His actions, at times, pushed the limitations of government into places that many Americans are uncomfortable with. I only wish that the story had focused more on such work and the controversies surrounding his career rather than the rumors about his personal life.
“J. Edgar” may be a solid film with a great performance from DiCaprio but it’s not the great biopic that one would expect from a strong director like Eastwood.