Few public figures have remained as enigmatic and elusive as J. Edgar Hoover, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Clint Eastwood's sluggish biopic fails to unravel the heart of this polarising character as it hops back-and-forth in time, despite a fiery and charismatic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.
J. Edgar is oddly uncritical of the terror that Hoover instilled in so many people as he transformed the FBI into a pervasive force in American society. He was the most feared man in the country, but you wouldn't know it from this picture, which focuses instead on Hoover's personal relationships with his domineering mother (Judi Dench) and longtime partner Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).
The funny, tender scenes between DiCaprio and Hammer are the best in the film, at least until the latter's charming performance dies underneath some of the worst old age prosthetics you'll ever see in a major Hollywood production. Sadly, such half-assed makeup work epitomises the slapdash nature of this dreary, shallow film.