Captivating Performance—J. Edgar: Saw the film J. Edgar and loved it. I think Leonardo DiCaprio is becoming one of this country's premier actors. He can play just about anyone and playing J. Edgar was no exception. I was in particular riveted to his performance and consider it Academy Award worthy. In addition, Judy Dench’s performance as Hoover’s domineering over-protective rather cruel mother was her usual great.
I gave it an eight star out of ten review on the IMDB site. I love various eras in post WWI US history, knew many of the issues presented in the film, knew about Hoover's alleged homosexuality and his life-long relationship with Clyde Tolson. We will never know, I suspect, if that relationship was consummated but the affection both clearly had for one another was obvious. Contrary to what interviews of the director, Eastwood, suggest I think the film does NOT elude to Hoover's homosexuality it shouts it and that the love of his life was Clyde Tolson. It is crystal clear from various scenes and emotional moments between Hoover and Tolson and because a straight man usually would not subvert his desire not only for sex but for having a family life ESPECIALLY if one were in a high position of power like Hoover was. In addition, the two men were never out of each other's company whether it was lunch every day or after hours. Moreover, and even more telling Hoover left nearly his entire estate to Tolson and finally they were buried close to each other in the same cemetery. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck it’s a duck! His relationship vis a vie the film I think made it CRYSTAL clear where Mr. Hoover's inclinations lay.
In essence the film depicts Hoover as an Oedipally neurotic hypocrite. He went after other people's suspected immoralities but kept his own proclivities secret. It is because of his homosexuality AND also because he wanted to keep his job that, I believe, he created his secret file. According to the film that file was shredded by his loyal secretary Ms. Gandy when Hoover died. An article in the Washington Post says all of his secret files can be read. Why the discrepancy I do not know.
Was the film perfect? Probably not but I came away from it feeling about Hoover what I felt the many years since the protests against the Vietnam War and that was that he was a paranoid anti-Communist seeing one in every closet, was a tortured man, tyrannical in nature and prone to valuing the supremacy of the state over the civil liberties of the individual destroying lives in the process. His lust for power and his temper were brutal and his idiosyncrasies obvious. I admit to his creation of a superior national police agency, the FBI but I loathed him in life and 40 years after his death and viewing the film I still do!
I recommend it for those who love the history of that period, love seeing excellent acting and for those who find Hoover's tyranny -- J. Edgar that is – entirely fascinating.