Where the film really kicks in is in the relationship Hoover develops with an associate at the FBI, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). The two were long rumored to be lovers.
Save for holding hands and one kiss, “J. Edgar” displays little physicality between the men. But it’s clear that emotionally they were a couple, although Hoover never seemed to want to embrace that status. Both actors fling themselves into the material, especially DiCaprio, even though the old age makeup is ineffective.
A few other name performers round out the cast. Naomi Watts is fairly wasted as Hoover’s loyal secretary, but Judi Dench has a few priceless scenes as his smothering mother. “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son,” she tells Hoover matter of factly, partially explaining why Hoover might have stayed in the closet all his life.
With a performance by DiCaprio that is likely to earn a Best Actor nomination, “J. Edgar” is an engrossing if flawed film about a man who notoriously held secrets about other people while being an enigma himself.
‘The Skin I Live In’
Pedro Almodovar reunites with one of his favorite leading men, Antonio Banderas, in “The Skin I Live In.” It’s certainly one of the oddest films the openly gay director has ever made.
Banderas is near-reclusive surgeon Robert Ledgard, who has taken to experimenting with a synthetic skin after a young woman in his life was nearly burned to death – and flung herself out of a window when she saw her scarred body. Several years after that accident, Ledgard has another young woman living with him – one he has kidnapped – who he is trying his experiment on.
Almodovar has never shied away from sexuality – or LGBT figures — and he doesn’t here either. One of the female characters is a lesbian, and true to the director’s nature, the film includes an unpredictable, gender-bender twist.
It’s a little on the grim side, minus much of the camp or colourful flourishes Almodovar is known and loved for, but the director’s fans should still savor it. Elsewhere this weekend, “Woke Up Black,” a documentary by Mary F. Morten, has its Atlanta debut Nov. 13 as part of the Bronze Lens Film Festival.
It tells the story of five African-American youth, including Ansheera, a self-identified “genderqueer,” and Carter, a football captain adopted by two gay men when he was 10 years old.
Top photo: ‘J.Edgar,’ the new film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the infamous FBI director, takes on his sexual orientation with a script by out screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. (Publicity photo)