User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 177 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 18 out of 177

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  1. 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) 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.
  2. Nov 12, 2011
    2
    My hopes were high being a Clint Eastwood picture. The higher the hopes the further they have to fall. I found it painful. The first half was engaging enough and I was anxious to lean a thing or two about the iconic figure's life and career, but as we rounded the bend for home it just descended into an expose of the tortured soul of the man. I didn't find that compelling at all. As littleMy hopes were high being a Clint Eastwood picture. The higher the hopes the further they have to fall. I found it painful. The first half was engaging enough and I was anxious to lean a thing or two about the iconic figure's life and career, but as we rounded the bend for home it just descended into an expose of the tortured soul of the man. I didn't find that compelling at all. As little as is really known about J. Edgar It felt to me that we never got an honest perspective of the man just the salacious rumours of who his detractors imagined him to be. Expand
  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, 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 wasWell, 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. Expand
  4. Nov 17, 2011
    1
    There have been great films of the past that act as biographies, showing the passions, sufferings, scandals and character of the subject. A director best known for these is Oliver Stone, whose prime works include JFK (1991), Nixon (1995) and W. (2008).

    In taking on a project regarding J Edgar Hoover, Clint Eastwood was perhaps trying to mimic Oliver Stone. It is in this that he succeeded,
    There have been great films of the past that act as biographies, showing the passions, sufferings, scandals and character of the subject. A director best known for these is Oliver Stone, whose prime works include JFK (1991), Nixon (1995) and W. (2008).

    In taking on a project regarding J Edgar Hoover, Clint Eastwood was perhaps trying to mimic Oliver Stone. It is in this that he succeeded, however, a strong distinction must be made between the works of Stone and Eastwood. While the aforementioned films by Stone represented their characters in a way that enmeshed and provided a solid, entertaining and thought provoking side to the subject, Eastwood makes his film seem like more of a history book, poorly written at that.

    The movie itself feels drawn out, lagging from any sort of tension that drives a plot and void of anything that makes the viewer feel involved in the action. With the presentation of the story, which involves jumping chronologically through the life of Hoover, the timing feels choppy and at times confusing. The best part of J. Edgar is that it is long, drawn out and can make one feel very tired after viewing, thus doubling as a sleeping pill. Even in parts that are supposed to be emotionally moving and instill catharsis, more than likely the sedative feeling instilled by the film in its epically banal entirety will dumb the intent so much as to expunge any sort of poignancy to talk about.
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  5. Nov 10, 2011
    0
    The most Painful movie of the year! It was like listening to geriatric elevator music for well over 2 hours. DiCaprio is a one note Johnny actor, one dimensional, screaming bore. The only redeeming value in this film is Armie Hammer. Stay away from this one!
  6. Nov 24, 2011
    3
    This is a mostly boring film about a man who (if you can believe the film) didn't have a life. Just because the man had a lot of power over a long time doesn't make him a good subject for a dramatic film. The makeup job on the character Clyde Tolson in old age was rather grotesque.
  7. Nov 14, 2011
    4
    Despite how underwhelmed I was by the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely sensational. His performance gets an 11 out of 10. The movie, however, dragged. For a good 2 hours and 20 minutes it dragged. Too slow, too many unnecessary scenes and plot lines... Too many PAINFULLY awkward moments, especially between J. Edgar and his mother (played by Judi Dench, because she's not in enoughDespite how underwhelmed I was by the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely sensational. His performance gets an 11 out of 10. The movie, however, dragged. For a good 2 hours and 20 minutes it dragged. Too slow, too many unnecessary scenes and plot lines... Too many PAINFULLY awkward moments, especially between J. Edgar and his mother (played by Judi Dench, because she's not in enough movies)... This should have been a biopic of J. Edgar and the FBI, not a disjointed web of lost plot lines and unnecessary developments... Expand
  8. Nov 23, 2011
    4
    This was a clash of two movies directions that did not mesh up. The main focus, in my opinion, was Edgar's struggle with his personal life. Superimposed over that, however, were a variety of historical events, such as the Lindbergh baby, JFK, Nixon, etc. These dramatic historical events weighed too heavily on the personal sub plot, and added very little to it, and vice versa. Just tooThis was a clash of two movies directions that did not mesh up. The main focus, in my opinion, was Edgar's struggle with his personal life. Superimposed over that, however, were a variety of historical events, such as the Lindbergh baby, JFK, Nixon, etc. These dramatic historical events weighed too heavily on the personal sub plot, and added very little to it, and vice versa. Just too disjointed to be a complete movie. Leo was excellent, though, and he was the only one who actually looked legitimately older with his "old person" makeup on (Armie Hammer's makeup was comically bad.) Expand
  9. Dec 7, 2011
    3
    A long and boring gay love story. The previews for this film were extremely misleading. Very disappointing film from Clint Eastwood. Go see the Muppet Movie instead.
  10. Dec 23, 2011
    3
    It seems Clint Eastwood may be loosing his touch. J. Edgar is just as bad, if not worse, than Hereafter, which came out last year. There is no linear story, just random jumps backward and forwards through Hoover's life. The worst part of the film for me was the horrible age makeup that made the characters look like they were wearing above average halloween masks. The performancesIt seems Clint Eastwood may be loosing his touch. J. Edgar is just as bad, if not worse, than Hereafter, which came out last year. There is no linear story, just random jumps backward and forwards through Hoover's life. The worst part of the film for me was the horrible age makeup that made the characters look like they were wearing above average halloween masks. The performances weren't much better. Leonardo DiCaprio obviously tried his best, but he just couldn't disappear into this role like he did in The Aviator playing Howard Hughes and he seemed to compensate by being overdramatic. Armie Hammer was no better. Naomi Watts at least has an excuse because her character was given no depth or development at all. At leas the film had good costumes and decent cinematography, otherwise it would have been a total disaster. Expand
  11. Jan 29, 2012
    3
    Someone let Clint Eastwood near a camera again. I know he buys a lot of the rights to these stories he wants to tell, but I don't know how someone takes a story and life full of potential and create this mess of a film. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finest young actors we have, and while his performances can tend to run together, he had an opportunity to shine even more in a role likeSomeone let Clint Eastwood near a camera again. I know he buys a lot of the rights to these stories he wants to tell, but I don't know how someone takes a story and life full of potential and create this mess of a film. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finest young actors we have, and while his performances can tend to run together, he had an opportunity to shine even more in a role like this similarly to how he did as Howard Hughes in "The Aviator." The difference between "The Aviator" and "J. Edgar" is sitting behind the camera in this one. Clint Eastwood, who has the biggest track record of empty, overrated directorial presentations, just blows it all to Hell in this one. The directing is weak, bringing out the blandest performances with its horrid storytelling. The movie shortchanges the viewer during what appear to be pivotal scenes, yet drags out the ones we knew were coming. Pretty standard stuff from "Bronco Billy." The actors and viewers deserved better. I hope the awful reviews send him a message. I'm glad I only spent $1.25, although I deserve some change. Expand
  12. Feb 10, 2012
    3
    How could a film about one of the 20th century's most controversial figures turn out so dull and ponderous. What was Clint thinking. With its endless see saw swing between formative and contemporary times, Leonardo tries his best, but he's hampered by a poor script and noodling direction. If only it had Scorsese at the helm. Clint usually is quite masterful, but not here.
  13. Jan 11, 2014
    3
    Probably about the only movie with Leonardo DiCaprio that I am giving a bad rating. This movie was very disappointing as it had fine actors and a great director. But it was ponderously directed, badly acted, and Leo and Hammer looked bad with the "old man makeup". Just a blip in Leo and Eastwood's filmography, and I think we can forgive them.
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
  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: Mike Scott
    Nov 11, 2011
    63
    So while J. Edgar ends up feeling like a mostly complete portrait of the man, and as fascinating a story as it is, it still falls just short of being something entirely memorable.
  3. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Nov 11, 2011
    63
    What a sprawling, befuddling, fascinating, frustrating mess of a movie. Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him.