Much has been made of Hoover’s rumored homosexual tendencies, and there are subtle clues present throughout, whether it’s his preference for having handsome young men like Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer, The Social Network) as co-workers or the scene where he slips on his mother’s dress and pearls while grieving her death. Funny enough, while struggling with something yourself often makes people more sympathetic to other’s weaknesses, that’s definitely not the case with Edgar. If anything, he seems to delight in the shortcomings of others, particularly people in the spotlight like civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who he’s intent on exposing when he obtains a tape recording of him sleeping with someone who isn’t his wife.

The frailty of humanity, not to mention the idea of what our legacies will be once we’re gone, are rich themes that inevitably make J. Edgar a compelling film. Superbly acted, particularly by DiCaprio who virtually disappears into his role (or he does, anyway, until he’s sporting that overly caked-on aging makeup that doesn’t do him any favors), it’s perfect Oscar bait in what’s been a so-so year at the box office. But more than anything else, it’s a reminder of how shallow life can be when you’re the only driving force, and that’s something that comes to light again and again in J. Edgar.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and cigarette smoking. Edgar also receives injections that are supposed to help his increasingly weakened condition as he gets older.
  • Language/Profanity: A single “f” word, two uses of coc-suc-ers, plus an instance where God’s name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity: After getting into a disagreement over Edgar’s desire to find a wife, he and Clyde get into a fight and end up kissing. Clyde tells Edgar he loves him; Edgar later confesses how much Clyde means to him, too. Discussion of politicians’ extra-marital affairs and a possible homosexual dalliance from a president’s wife. Edgar listens to a tape of Martin Luther King having extra-marital sex (moaning and heavy breathing is heard). Edgar’s mother calls homosexual men “daffodils.”
  • Violence: Several bombs detonate and innocent people are killed in the process. Several scenes involving gunfire. The shriveled corpse of a dead baby is shown. A story is told about a man killing himself when people discovered he was gay.
     

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.