J. Edgar

Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 42
  2. Negative: 4 out of 42
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Nick de Semlyen
    Jan 16, 2012
    60
    A well acted but unfocused study of one of the 20th century's most colourful characters.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 8, 2011
    60
    At least Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Nov 4, 2011
    60
    Any movie in which the longtime FBI honcho features as the central character must supply some insight into what made him tick, or suffer from the reality that the Bureau's exploits were far more interesting than the bureaucrat who ran it -- a dilemma J. Edgar never rises above.
  4. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Nov 9, 2011
    58
    Eastwood's prim, respectful biography presents Hoover in turn as a muddy political metaphor, a lesson in self-mythologizing, and a case history in repression, but never particularly as a man.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 9, 2011
    58
    There might be a great movie about any of Hoover's triumphs and secrets, but not all at once.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Nov 9, 2011
    55
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 10, 2011
    50
    J. Edgar is the kind of prestige production that apologists will call polished, but even the technical attributes are tinny. In the gay-geezers scenes, Hammer wears terrible old-age makeup, and the entire film is bathed in sepia tones as weak as its convictions.
  8. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 9, 2011
    50
    Whether unintentionally or by design, the movie never really makes a case either for or against the troubled figure at its center.
  9. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 9, 2011
    50
    It's watchable and reasonably entertaining, to be sure. Eastwood doesn't make movies that are hard to sit through. But something in the film's point of view is off, not at cross-purposes, not contradictory, but incomplete, irrelevant and ever-so-faintly ridiculous.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Nov 9, 2011
    50
    Truth be told, J. Edgar drags, even when it pays homage to the widely discredited urban legend that the guy liked to dress in drag.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 9, 2011
    50
    The film manages to be both sensational and stodgy, like a guided tour that goes on until it drones.
  12. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 8, 2011
    50
    I expected more from a movie about the most feared man in America for half a century. Whatever else you think about him, in retrospect, he had balls of brass - an essential quality replaced in J. Edgar by dull indifference.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 8, 2011
    40
    J. Edgar is infuriatingly coy and noncritical about its subject, an undeniable patriot but also an alarmist and a ruiner of lives.
  14. 40
    It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings. Not DiCaprio, though.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 183 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 58
  2. Negative: 10 out of 58
  1. Nov 9, 2011
    10
    Awesome movie! DiCaprio needs to get that Oscar already!!! Ordinary critics didn't understand it because of the many narrative and time shiftsAwesome 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
    2
    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)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
    4
    Well, I cannot think of much positive to say about this film. There was nothing new to be learned, no subplots developed, nothing revealed,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 »