Leonardo DiCaprio is not the first name that springs to mind as the embodiment of legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover—unlike, for instance, the title character in the upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby. I give the actor credit for his commitment to this assignment, but he’s still not quite right, especially if you’ve seen any newsreel footage of the bulldog-like Hoover. It’s more difficult to excuse screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and director Clint Eastwood for making such a dull, monotonous biography of one of the 20th century’s most commanding and controversial figures.
Another glaring problem plagues the picture, which spans six decades: while one can (gradually) accept DiCaprio’s aging makeup, and even Naomi Watts’s, it is impossible to invest in any latter-day scene involving Armie Hammer because his old-age makeup is so astonishingly bad. Even if the film were brilliant, and it’s not, this would be a serious stumbling block, for which there is no apparent reason.
As for the dramaturgy, Black takes a nonlinear approach
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