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Should have been better
on September 15, 2012
This speculative biopic of the controversial FBI director stars Leonardo DiCaprio. The story opens in 1970, as Hoover is dictating his history of the Bureau; in flashbacks, we see his pivotal role the Lindburgh case and his battles with Communists, the Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He was also obsessed with his doting mother (Judi Dench) and his long-time Assistant Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).
The story is, in turns, exciting and boring, heartfelt and cheesy and has two insurmountable flaws: DiCaprio is horribly miscast as Hoover (he still looks and sounds like Jack Dawson, despite supposedly aging 53 years) and the terrible old-age make-up used for Hoover, Tolson, and Hoover's secretary (Naomi Watts) is absolutely terrible. Tolson, in particular, looks like Boris Karloff's Mummy and even though director Eastwood filmed the entire movie in dim, half-light, the make-up is distracting and never convincing.
I found the story of Hoover's life interesting and came away feeling quite sorry for this sad, tortured man, but the casting and make-up ruined it for me.