The love, life of J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover: Cross-dressing creep or lonely hero?

Leonardo Di Caprio stars as the controversial title character in J. Edgar.

J. Edgar Hoover is one of the most iconic American figures of the last century, and a polarizing one: crime-fighting superpatriot or blackmailing bully? Cross-dressing creep or lonely hero? We get lots of each in J. Edgar, the epic biopic from Clint Eastwood (who, having played good bad guys and bad good guys, knows lots about moral ambiguity). Leonardo DiCaprio has the starring role, and thanks to loads of latex effectively embodies Hoover for the more than 40 years that he ran the FBI. On the trail of bomb-throwing “commie” anarchists in the ’20s and mobsters in the ’30s, Hoover sees America as perpetually under threat from dark and deadly forces. Decades later, and increasingly paranoid, he imagines Martin Luther King Jr. as just one more menace to the America he loves.

But the petty and vengeful bureaucrat who wiretapped his political enemies was the same man who defied the skeptics and pioneered the science of forensic analysis in the early ’30s — which proved indispensable in solving the notorious Lindbergh kidnapping. He was also a lion when it came to fighting Congress for better funding for the bureau (even if he had to lie in the process). Nothing if not complex, the fussy and morally uptight Hoover was also one of the loneliest men in America. Dominated by a homophobic mother (Judi Dench), the closeted Hoover had a decades-long affair of the heart with his deputy chief, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer, The Social Network). It is unclear if the relationship was ever consummated, but Edgar is a love story as much as anything, and that repressed romance is at the core of the film’s complex, time-shifting narrative.

DiCaprio, usually something of a boy-man, is brilliant and convincing here, as is Hammer. Naomi Watts is flawless as the woman who was his loyal secretary for four decades. And Dench is quietly terrifying as a lethal “mommie dearest.” Fascinating, well filmed, and surprisingly touching, Edgar brings a half-century of recent American history to life in the process of delivering a balanced portrait of a much-loathed and undeniably tragic figure. This is yet another excellent film from Eastwood. M

 

J. Edgar ★ ★ ★ ★

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Judy Dench

R – 137 minutes

Continues at the Capitol & Westshore

 

 

Perfectly Potable

It’s time for a stiff drink, and what’s better than a martini? They always taste best at a classy bar like Veneto, Clive’s, or the Bengal, but handmade at home can also be great. Use a quality gin like Plymouth or Bombay Sapphire (or Victoria if you can afford it). And for an intriguing variation, leave the Vermouth in the cabinet and try a few drops of Ouzo instead. Bottoms up!

Just Posted

UVic art display showcases craft of bookmaking

Art of the Book 2018 is in the Audain Gallery at UVic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Aug. 11

Celebrate local food with Feast of Fields in North Saanich

21st Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island is at Kildara Farms on Aug. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Baseball’s HarbourCats wind up WCL season with loss to Pickles

Victoria needed a win to make the league playoffs, now looks ahead to 2019

Cannabis lounge idea to be floated at Victoria council meeting

Coun. Ben Isitt wants to explore smoking area options for marijuana users after legalization

VIDEO: Huge crowd celebrates Sunfest opening night with Canyon, Pritchett in Lake Cowichan

Plenty to enjoy as Sunfest Country Music Festival opened, and lots of folks came out to do so

REVIEW: Ever wanted to be young again? Theatre Skam’s Concord Floral will make you think again

Strong acting in an interesting theatre space, writes Sheila Martindale

Brad Pitt says he has given Jolie Pitt millions since split

Actor Brad Pitt denies Angelina Jolie Pitt’s claim that he has paid no meaningful child support.

WINE LOVERS UNITE: Victoria festival offers numerous tasting options

Parkside Hotel and Spa hosting Victoria International Wine Festival

Farquhar Auditorium updates image for 40th season

The Farquhar at UVic ushers in new season Sept. 22

THEATRE SKAM: Young cast brings Concord Floral to life in vacant downtown retail space

Former office supply store a unique venue for telling mysterious tale of youth with secrets

Schedule released for world junior hockey championship in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria ready to host, as Canada conducts training camp in Kamloops

Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy visits Prospect Lake

Power To Be annual fundraiser event brings in big personalities

Bard Across the Bridge brings ‘The Tempest’ seaside

Stage set for classic Shakespeare tale in Saxe Point Park this week

Most Read