Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 42
  2. Negative: 4 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 9, 2011
    All of it makes for a rollicking, outsize tale of overweening ambition and palace intrigue, but J. Edgar instead plays it safe in a turgid, back-and-forth series of tableaux that look as if they were filmed from behind a scrim soaked in weak tea.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 10, 2011
    J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, is at war with itself, and everyone loses...Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.
  3. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 9, 2011
    J. Edgar turns out to be one of the worst ideas anybody's ever had, a mendacious, muddled, sub-mediocre mess that turns some of the most explosive episodes of the 20th century into bad domestic melodrama and refuses to take any clear position on one of American history's most controversial figures.
  4. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Nov 6, 2011
    Between Eastwood's direction and Dustin Lance Black's screenplay, what you feel leaking off the screen in every scene is missed opportunity.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 176 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 58
  2. Negative: 10 out of 58
  1. Nov 9, 2011
    Awesome movie! DiCaprio needs to get that Oscar already!!! Ordinary critics didn't understand it because of the many narrative and time shifts but this film is a gem. Full Review »
  2. Nov 18, 2011
    Every second of DiCaprio and Hammer in their rubber old man make-up (complete with terribly cliched old men shaky walks and bad shaky voices) is a blow against an otherwise interesting film. And there are enough seconds to turn the whole film into a joke. Dreadful performances. Eastwood really let this one get away from him. Too bad. Full Review »
  3. Nov 14, 2011
    Well, I cannot think of much positive to say about this film. There was nothing new to be learned, no subplots developed, nothing revealed, and it just seemed like Eastwood was lost. Leonardo was packed under tons of makeup to play the elder Hoover with the film flashing back to key points in the pasts. Yet these key points were nothing we did not already know about and nothing knew was revealed about the. Eastwood focused mainly on his private gay life and partner but should that be the focus of a biography of someone this important in American history. A hugh disappointment to me. Full Review »