User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 183 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 18 out of 183
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  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 shifts but this film is a gem.
  2. Nov 12, 2011
    10
    I'm not much on biopic films but J,Edgar was generally good, Dicaprio plays a convincing role and jumps right into it and at that a definite Oscar nominee and in my opinion deserves it for this. J. Edgar seems to be the darkest Eastwood film since Mystic River but I enjoy that (to a certain degree). Any fan of either Clint Eastwood or Leonardo Dicaprio I insist that you at least give thisI'm not much on biopic films but J,Edgar was generally good, Dicaprio plays a convincing role and jumps right into it and at that a definite Oscar nominee and in my opinion deserves it for this. J. Edgar seems to be the darkest Eastwood film since Mystic River but I enjoy that (to a certain degree). Any fan of either Clint Eastwood or Leonardo Dicaprio I insist that you at least give this go, you will like this. Expand
  3. Nov 9, 2011
    10
    LEO DICAPRIO is a elite actor and this movie is just awesome. I hate when idiots criticize the movies that are wonderful just because they are jelous their pursuit for fame in hollywood led to being a reviewer for a **** magazine or newspaper hahaha losers. =]
  4. Nov 9, 2011
    10
    I must agree with the fact that this movie is absolutely amazing. Leonardo DiCaprio definitely deserves an Academy Award nomination. Still, this movie could be much better than it is.
  5. Nov 11, 2011
    9
    A masterful film directed by a more mature Clint Eastwood. The file shows sensitivity and purpose. It has the feel of a documentary yet more informative and personal, and drama. Leonard DiCaprio was brilliant and is sure to receive an Oscar nomination. Watching this 2 hour and 17 minutes film is like watching a freight train moving in first gear -- slow but powerfully steady. If youA masterful film directed by a more mature Clint Eastwood. The file shows sensitivity and purpose. It has the feel of a documentary yet more informative and personal, and drama. Leonard DiCaprio was brilliant and is sure to receive an Oscar nomination. Watching this 2 hour and 17 minutes film is like watching a freight train moving in first gear -- slow but powerfully steady. If you are looking for action and explosions you will not find it, this film is one hundred percent dialogue. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre. A brilliant docudrama. Expand
  6. Nov 11, 2011
    9
    If for no other reason, see this for the exceptional performances by DiCaprio (and others) and be reminded that good actors can be- convincingly- the characters that they portray and a good director is judged by their performance. In all regards, this movie deserves a 95 out of 100. It's worth going to the movies, again!
  7. Nov 14, 2011
    9
    Leonardo DiCaprio gives a memorable portrayal as J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI for almost 50 years. He modernized crime fighting, while wielding his power through intimidation and force. During it all, he had a seemingly chaste, but devoted relationship with his aide, Clyde Tolson, What starts as a biopic outlining the highlights of his career, ends up being a tender story of hisLeonardo DiCaprio gives a memorable portrayal as J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI for almost 50 years. He modernized crime fighting, while wielding his power through intimidation and force. During it all, he had a seemingly chaste, but devoted relationship with his aide, Clyde Tolson, What starts as a biopic outlining the highlights of his career, ends up being a tender story of his frustrated love. Since this is a Clint Eastwood film, you can expect efficient storytelling and powerful performances, but this time there's an artistic flair to the period recreations and cinematography. Writer Dustin Lance Black has penned a multi-layered story that adds to the resonance. Even though it's a bit slow and long, this film manages to create a character that's complex and compelling. Expand
  8. Nov 30, 2011
    10
    J. Edgar" is, as you might expect, the story of J. Edgar Hoover, at one time one of if not the most powerful man in the nation as he formed and led the Federal Bureau of Investigation for at least 48 years. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the world's most famous G Man and Armie Hammer plays his faithful confidant and friend, Clyde Tolson while Naomi Watts portrays the role of Helen Gandy, J.J. Edgar" is, as you might expect, the story of J. Edgar Hoover, at one time one of if not the most powerful man in the nation as he formed and led the Federal Bureau of Investigation for at least 48 years. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the world's most famous G Man and Armie Hammer plays his faithful confidant and friend, Clyde Tolson while Naomi Watts portrays the role of Helen Gandy, J. Edgar's ever loyal secretary and girl Friday. The film was written by Dustin Lance Black and produced and directed by Clint Eastwood,. Although interesting from the point of view of the history of the nation's most famous crime fighting organization, I'm sorry to say that the film was much too long. Instead of shortening Hoover's name in the title of the film, the editors should have deleted a lot of unnecessary footage as the movie struggles to find itself and its proper pace. In this case FBI could stand "For Boring Individuals". Even good things should end in a timely manner. This is not the Clint Eastwood we came to know in "The Unforgiven" or his other great films. It was almost as if pride of directorship and artistic endeavor overrode the necessity to make the film work in a tighter vehicle. Perhaps trying to cover such a complicated character over so long a period makes the extraordinary length of the film inevitable but not necessarily pleasant to watch. I give the film a score of 7,5 with the suggestion that a good cup of strong coffee prior to viewing it would be a good idea., Expand
  9. Nov 14, 2011
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Bottom Line: Biographical Eastwood/DiCaprio collaboration is spectacular; by far one of the better films made in 2011.

    Clint Eastwoodâ
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  10. Nov 20, 2011
    9
    J. EDGAR is easily one of the best films of 2011 and should receive an Oscar Nomination as Best Picture. I'll be pulling for it to do so. Further, J. EDGAR deserves serious Oscar/award consideration in every category for which it qualifies. Without hesitation, among the major categories, I would nominate Clint Eastwood as Best Director, Leonardo DiCaprio as Best Actor, Dustin Lance BlackJ. EDGAR is easily one of the best films of 2011 and should receive an Oscar Nomination as Best Picture. I'll be pulling for it to do so. Further, J. EDGAR deserves serious Oscar/award consideration in every category for which it qualifies. Without hesitation, among the major categories, I would nominate Clint Eastwood as Best Director, Leonardo DiCaprio as Best Actor, Dustin Lance Black for Best Writing and Armie Hammer for Best Supporting Actor. Also, I'll be shocked if Sian Grigg doesn't win the Best Makeup Oscar for his transformation of Leonardo DiCaprio into J. Edgar Hoover at many different ages right before our eyes. Generally, I prefer films that tell their story in a linear style but got beyond that this time.
    I'll admit that the pace is measured but that's entirely appropriate for this material. I highly recommend J. EDGAR.
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  11. Nov 20, 2011
    7
    Excellent perormance by Leonardo Dicaprio. The makeup sucks!! I liked the time shifts. The movie was pouring information in my eyes! So many things you learn in this movie. Still the movie doesn't explain a lot about J Edgar and could have use a lot more info about him and his gay relationship.
  12. Nov 21, 2011
    7
    Yes, i love DiCaprio. He are true contender for Best Actor for awards season this year.
    Arnie Hammer and Judi Dench also give absolutely stunning performance.
  13. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    For those of us born after 1972, it is routine to see government directors arrive in a new post, serve their designated appointments, and move on to be replaced by another bureaucrat. However, for those a bit more mature, they will remember the FBI as a place where turnover at the top did not occur. One man, J. Edgar Hoover, molded that organization into the domestic crime fighting forceFor those of us born after 1972, it is routine to see government directors arrive in a new post, serve their designated appointments, and move on to be replaced by another bureaucrat. However, for those a bit more mature, they will remember the FBI as a place where turnover at the top did not occur. One man, J. Edgar Hoover, molded that organization into the domestic crime fighting force it is today and would react severely towards real and perceived threats to his power, even from multiple Presidents of the United States. As the subject of Clint Eastwoodâ Expand
  14. Nov 29, 2011
    10
    It really is a shame on how much of an influence some critics have on how much attention a film gets, and how convincing the critic is. Precisely why J. Edgar is among the most under appreciated films ever made. It is a true gem. Critics complain that it is too long, too boring. NOPE. J. Edgar Hoover was not the most entertaining guy, nor the trigger happy blockbuster film hero. The filmIt really is a shame on how much of an influence some critics have on how much attention a film gets, and how convincing the critic is. Precisely why J. Edgar is among the most under appreciated films ever made. It is a true gem. Critics complain that it is too long, too boring. NOPE. J. Edgar Hoover was not the most entertaining guy, nor the trigger happy blockbuster film hero. The film gives an accurate depiction of his life in politics, as well as his personal life. And people, politics can be a boring topic. You'll survive. Collapse
  15. Jan 5, 2012
    10
    And the Oscar goes to .... Leonardo DiCaprio

    With the title I mean DiCaprio obviously win the Oscar. The acting is really good, logically appreciating VO. It is obvious who will win the Oscar for film actually harvest of 2011 is pitiful being generous. But also, in my opinion, DiCaprio is confirmed as the great actor he is. So far could be no doubt among those who considered him the
    And the Oscar goes to .... Leonardo DiCaprio

    With the title I mean DiCaprio obviously win the Oscar. The acting is really good, logically appreciating VO. It is obvious who will win the Oscar for film actually harvest of 2011 is pitiful being generous. But also, in my opinion, DiCaprio is confirmed as the great actor he is. So far could be no doubt among those who considered him the best actor of his generation and those who believe it is good because it is always in good movies. His performance in films like The Aviator and Shutter Island, is confirmed in this great work, perhaps the last wonder gave us the greatest of all, Clint Eastwood. I think critics are based DiCaprio as ever in her pretty face in Titanic and do not forget that it was an idol of schoolgirls folders. But those days have long since passed. When people as great as Scorsese, Eastwood, Spielberg, Nolan, Tarantino and Scott, an actor raffle must be for something. Who in Hollywood can boast of our time classic starring as Shutter Island, The Departed, Catch me if you can? Or start at the cinema with wonders like Basketball Diaries and This Boy's Life? And without going into undervalued films like The Beach, Romeo + Juliet or Gangs of NY. Upcoming releases will only continue his legendary career, despite who he weighs.
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  16. Jan 26, 2012
    8
    Clint Eastwood returns after the critically panned 'Hereafter' with a film that was bound to put him back on his high horse. 'J. Edgar' is an epic yet intimate portrait of one of the most notorious and powerful men in 20th century America. It also stars Leonardo DiCaprio who has seemed to be churning out one great performance after the other in the last 5 years. All of these factors hasClint Eastwood returns after the critically panned 'Hereafter' with a film that was bound to put him back on his high horse. 'J. Edgar' is an epic yet intimate portrait of one of the most notorious and powerful men in 20th century America. It also stars Leonardo DiCaprio who has seemed to be churning out one great performance after the other in the last 5 years. All of these factors has pointed J. Edgar towards the Oscars but it recently received no nominations and garnered mixed reviews from audiences and critics alike. Let me tell you my version of the truth...

    When reviewing a film like J. Edgar, it is best to start with the films successes. Rather than telling the story like a solid historical film that details the history of the FBI (and consequently, around 40 years of American political history!), it focuses on J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio) as a person and his often tragic journey through life with his colleague, friend and possible love interest, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). The film finds it's emotional core by showing the relationship between Hoover and Tolson; Hoover will never openly admit any feelings for Clyde and it's the suppressed feelings that come through in DiCaprio's astonishing performance that give the film a true heart. We are not seeing imitation but true expression and embodiment of character when DiCaprio plays Hoover. Every precise detail about him has been researched, with his character traits and obsessions coming out with extreme subtlety whenever DiCaprio is on screen.

    Eastwood is balancing a biopic, a love story and a brief overview of Hoover's FBI department over a 50 year period. This is a hard task to handle and the films shortcomings are seen in the moments when the movie isn't sure what it's trying to be. The production design is very realistic despite the drab, dull colours, but it shows a great authenticity as America looked very dull back in the 1930's. Additionally, the make-up department has unfortunately done a half hearted job on this film, as a fraction of the fantastic performances by DiCaprio and Hammer are hidden under the thick layers of prosthetic false skin. However, none of these points are of such importance that it stops 'J. Edgar' from reaching it's full potential as a film.

    Because of the large time period it occupies, the script by Dustin Lance Black (writer of the Oscar winning 'Milk') occasionally struggles but never loses focus of the force that is Hoover. From the start of the picture, his determination and focus is made very clear, something which is kept consistent throughout the picture. Additionally, Black explores some incredibly human sides to Hoover; Watch out for a scene where he tries to tell his mother of his sexual orientation or DiCaprio's perfectly realised reaction to a fight between Hoover and Tolson. It is a performance which is certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination and with only nine nominations (rather than the usual ten) for best picture this year, this film should certainly have been given a chance.

    Clint Eastwood has made his best film since 2008's 'Gran Torino' with 'J. Edgar' and even though it brushes over many facts to get to the story behind the man himself, it is a very beautifully realised story. Leonardo DiCaprio boasts one of his best performances, the film is very well made and despite the balancing act the it has to maintain, Eastwood does a good job of rounding everything up for a fitting ending. There are moral messages about America in this picture that can still apply to today's society but the most important message running through the heart of the film is that love will always be far more enduring than hate or discord.
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  17. Feb 22, 2012
    8
    Interesting film. A bit slow and the makeup was a very serious issue. The film is filled with quite good performances. Overall a lot better than Invictus or Hereafter. Eastwood has made it clear he understands the nature of relationships and what is revealed to others by those who are involved in those relationships. Eastwood has proven over and over he can tell a story and he doesInteresting film. A bit slow and the makeup was a very serious issue. The film is filled with quite good performances. Overall a lot better than Invictus or Hereafter. Eastwood has made it clear he understands the nature of relationships and what is revealed to others by those who are involved in those relationships. Eastwood has proven over and over he can tell a story and he does that here and does it quite well. Expand
  18. Feb 26, 2012
    7
    Psychological and personal. This movie is all about J. Edgar Hoover the person, not the chief of FBI. Dark, gloomy, enigmatic... a film like the person it depicts. DiCaprio is awesome at playing Hoover. However, in my opinion, the movie toys too much with retrospectives, leaving the spectator lost at times...
  19. Apr 24, 2012
    8
    I don't understand why so many have panned this movie. Eastwood's portrayal of one of the most influential people in American history is spot on and DiCaprio delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. OK, it's not a Jason Statham movie, but it's not too slow. Anyone who is familiar with or interested in the man behind the FBI should find this to be a fascinating movie. I personally foundI don't understand why so many have panned this movie. Eastwood's portrayal of one of the most influential people in American history is spot on and DiCaprio delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. OK, it's not a Jason Statham movie, but it's not too slow. Anyone who is familiar with or interested in the man behind the FBI should find this to be a fascinating movie. I personally found the plot to be tight, the camera work to be well-done, and the history to be reasonably accurate. As several others have noted, the make-up is so bad as to be distracting. That is really the only downside. This film is definitely worthy of renting. Expand
  20. Aug 18, 2012
    7
    Clint Eastwood and DiCaprio clearly know their craft and deliver a biopic that isn't affraid to show the man's character flaws and failures as well as the contributions he made to the justice system and society. It doesn't fall in the trap of being judgemental and lets the audience think for themselves.
  21. Aug 27, 2012
    7
    'J. Edgar' sadly isn't the great Clint Eastwood film that I or anyone else was expecting. The film, for me, suffered from not having a plot that moved forward. Instead, the film is told through flashbacks and we go from old Hoover to your Hoover several times. With that main gripe aside, the film itself IS good. It's superbly acted by DiCaprio, well directed by Eastwood, and never has a'J. Edgar' sadly isn't the great Clint Eastwood film that I or anyone else was expecting. The film, for me, suffered from not having a plot that moved forward. Instead, the film is told through flashbacks and we go from old Hoover to your Hoover several times. With that main gripe aside, the film itself IS good. It's superbly acted by DiCaprio, well directed by Eastwood, and never has a dull moment. Expand
  22. Dec 9, 2012
    7
    Entertaining but fairly conventional biopic with Leonardo Dicaprio turning in another excellent performance as the tortured politician. Armie Hammer lends good support, and the production values are all on the money, the ageing make-up aside which is variable to say the least.
  23. Jan 18, 2013
    9
    Clint Eastwood returns after a couple of average at best films (Invictus and Hereafter). I´m not into biopics and these American powerful men don´t interest me at all, so I wasn´t expecting much. But when the film starts you can smell this Eastwood´s way of making great cinema. Cinematography is great and Leonardo Dicaprio makes you love and care for the characterClint Eastwood returns after a couple of average at best films (Invictus and Hereafter). I´m not into biopics and these American powerful men don´t interest me at all, so I wasn´t expecting much. But when the film starts you can smell this Eastwood´s way of making great cinema. Cinematography is great and Leonardo Dicaprio makes you love and care for the character (despite being an obsessed man who did so many questionable things). The first hour is good... but to my surprise it got better after that when the character´s personal life finally comes to the front, like it should be in an Eastwood´s film. Judi Dench is always great, Naomi Watts is good and... another surprise is how good Armie Hammer is. Wasn´t expecting some of the scenes in the last part coming from a director like Eastwood. I give it a 9/10. An underrated film, with Dicaprio deserving of an oscar nomination which didn´t come (again) and a good way to know something about the US recent history Expand
  24. Feb 25, 2013
    8
    Perhaps quite an anticipated biographical film, J. Edgar tells the story of, at the time, "the second most powerful man in America", FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
    Leonardo DiCaprio gives a masterful performance as the ruthless lawman, who's unquestioned part in the growth of crime fighting helped to solidify his status as the birth of modern policing technology.
    J.Edgar is told in
    Perhaps quite an anticipated biographical film, J. Edgar tells the story of, at the time, "the second most powerful man in America", FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
    Leonardo DiCaprio gives a masterful performance as the ruthless lawman, who's unquestioned part in the growth of crime fighting helped to solidify his status as the birth of modern policing technology.
    J.Edgar is told in non-linear fashion, it jumps throughout the film, focusing on Hoovers later years as he is telling the story and going right back to 1919 during his rise in the Bureau.
    This is very much a tale of how Hoover appeared to influence and maintain his public image as the face of the Bureau of Investigation, his awkward and consistently questioned homosexual relationship with his longtime assistant Clyde Tolson, played confidently by Armie Hammer. We see Hoover's attempts to increase the funds for the FBI in an attempt to detain criminals through concrete evidence, the introduction of fingerprint databases and forensic laboratories.
    DiCaprio, along with director Clint Eastwood, have created Hoover in a brilliantly diverse image of intimidation, isolation, but most of all, an undying will to get what he wants. DiCaprio's delivery of Hoovers confident speaking and his tactics to appear better than the rest, are truly some of the best parts of the film, and defining moments in DiCaprio's career.
    The inclusion of various notable political figures throughout Hoover's expansive career make appearances including Richard Nixon and Bobby Kennedy, attempt to show the influence that Hoover had over these powerful people, and undoubtedly the numerous investigations after his death, which looked into his methods, including wire tapping and possession of confidential files of leading people.
    There are small things which perhaps bring the film down, the lighting is particularly concerning, perhaps they were trying to put a different feel on a film set during the Depression,, but at times its quite difficult see expressions, due to the very dim colours, the make-up used for the later stages of the characters lives is also questionable, DiCaprio's is just ok, but Armie Hammer's face looks more a severe case of a burn victim rather than an ageing man, and the film does perhaps jump to much for many to follow and hold onto its narrative.
    But overall, a truly compelling and engaging biographical drama, with a spellbindingly powerhouse performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, and excellent supporting roles from Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and the excellent Armie Hammer, J.Edgar might just be excellent craftsmanship of how one man can rise the ranks, and Eastwood has created a man not many fully understand, but who unquestionably remains historic in more ways than one.
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  25. Aug 31, 2013
    7
    J. Edgar is a strange film. While I wouldn't go as far as saying I really enjoyed sitting through it's two hours plus running time, I found the subject matter incredibly interesting and DiCaprio's powerhouse performance as Hoover kept me glued to the screen. The film is certainly not lacking for strong performances as DiCaprio is well supported by Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts.

    I think
    J. Edgar is a strange film. While I wouldn't go as far as saying I really enjoyed sitting through it's two hours plus running time, I found the subject matter incredibly interesting and DiCaprio's powerhouse performance as Hoover kept me glued to the screen. The film is certainly not lacking for strong performances as DiCaprio is well supported by Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts.

    I think writer Dustin Black struggled to balance the elements of character study with the events taking place around Hoover. The film is definitely at it's most interesting when Hoover is leading the FBI through the pursuit of Dillinger, investigating the Lindbergh kidnapping and plotting against Martin Luther King. When the film remembers it's a biopic it turns to Hoover's personal life and time is spent analysing his relationships with close friend Clyde and his mother, played by Judi Dench. This narrative, from various times in Hoover's past, both professional and private life, to the current day, does jump around without too much coherence but I didn't find it as troubling as many critics seem too have.

    J. Edgar will not appeal to those with no interest in American history yet for those keen to understand Hoover's dogged role in the creation of the FBI and some of the major political events of the twentieth century, and willing to forgive it it's flaws, it offers a fascinating look at the achievements and legacy of the man while touching on his character, all told through the great performances.

    Oh and yes, some of the make-up and prosthetics used on DiCaprio and Hammer during the later years are distractingly laughable.
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  26. Jul 11, 2014
    7
    good biopical but not a great movie. DiCaprio always delivers
  27. chw
    Oct 18, 2014
    7
    J. Edgar was a decent film. It wasn't either Leonardo DiCaprio or Clint Eastwood's greatest or one of their greatest's, but still a very good movie well acted.
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.