As Lily Tomlin's Ernestine once said, "There's nothing like a Hoover when you're dealing with dirt." Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar could use more dirt: This is a sensitive, sympathetic portrait of a scummy little man, an earnest attempt to map the contours and contradictions of a complicated son-of-a-bitch. But it's all too earnest, to the point of serving, unwittingly or otherwise, as an apologia. Even Eastwood's attempt at a poignant Hoover death scene fails to hit the mark: I for one would want to stick the guy with a pin to make sure he was really dead.
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