Directed by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by Dustin Lance Black
20th January - 2nd February 2012
This is a disappointing biopic of the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, who was
in charge of the FBI for nearly forty years.
The film largely consists of flashbacks of his life, as Hoover, played
by the ever-improving Leonardo DiCaprio, describes his life story - often
with doubtful accuracy - to a succession of low-ranking agents.
Clint Eastwood lets Hoover off lightly in regard to his virulent racism,
homophobia (even though he was a homosexual himself) and his almost complete
disregard of civil liberties.
Instead more emphasis is given to his campaign to rid the USA of notorious
gangsters - American audiences idolised them when they were portrayed
in movies - and terrorists ie. communists, with the assistance of his
His determination to track down 'undesirables' led to him inventing the
finger printing technique, later utilised throughout the country.
Despite the muddled nature of the film, DiCaprio turns in an accomplished
performance, most notably in depicting the early part of his time with
the FBI, when he was an excessive stickler for detail, administered the
bureau with a zealous fervour and wanted to place everyone in the USA,
whether guilty or innocent, under constant surveillance.
DiCaprio's star turn stands out amid a number of miscastings by the veteran
The most absurd is Judi Dench, playing his besotted mother, using a Home
Counties English accent. Supposedly a great actress, surely it is within
her capability to adopt an American accent. A lame dame indeed!