J. Edgar

Rated 4.0

Written by Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar ventures into the labyrinthine life and character of a historical figure (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who was at once highly visible and perplexingly remote. Black’s brilliantly nuanced screenplay traces Hoover’s ascent to power as the founder and promoter of the FBI and its dramatic expansion from semi-orphaned government bureau to major law-enforcement agency and on to being a political force feared by more than one president. But the real drama here is in the private relationships of this seemingly very public man. His long-time secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) figures crucially in all that, as does Hoover’s weirdly domineering mother (Judi Dench). But the crucial relationship is also the most widely known and speculated about: Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), Hoover’s “right-hand man” at the F.B.I., was also his constant companion right to the end. The film’s portrayal of the Hoover-Tolson relationship is sensitive and frank without resorting to sensationalism or caricature. As a composite portrait of sublimated desire and redirected erotic energies, it is an extraordinary accomplishment. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R