User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 176 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 18 out of 176

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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 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.
  3. 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 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. Collapse
  4. 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 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
  5. Nov 13, 2011
    5
    Unfortunately, a bit of a snoozer. The movie is well-acted and nicely photographed. The movie's story never takes off. Why should we care about J. Edgar Hoover? I don't know - I care less about him no than before I saw the film. Hoover was a man of secrets with few friends and perhaps that is why there seems so little to tell.
  6. 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,
    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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  7. 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. =]
  8. 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.
  9. Nov 10, 2011
    5
    The movie tends to lose interest halfway through. And even though it is so well acted, especially Dicaprio, Clint Eastwood needs to start shaping up his movies.
  10. 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!
  11. 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 this go, you will like this. Expand
  12. 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 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
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. JFK
    Nov 9, 2011
    6
    Aside from a solid performance by Leonardo and strong support from Naomi, Judi and Armie, this is a languid, unfocussed biopic. Beautifully designed but lacking emotion other than in a couple scenes between Leo and Armie.
  16. 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 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
  17. 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 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
  18. 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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  19. 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 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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  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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 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
  23. 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 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
  24. Nov 28, 2011
    5
    "J. Edgar" is an alright movie, it takes an interesting idea but then fails to bring it to light. Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as Hoover is just flat-out amazing, as always expected from him. His performance is the only thing that keeps the film afloat. J. Edgar stumbles in every thing else. The plot is very confusing as it will just switch between old and young Hoover and events interlap and stuff making the film kind of hard to follow at times. The acting and dialogue is a bit cheesy and stale and the film does nothing more than tell the events of Hoover's life from him at 24 years old to his death at 77 years old. The film does not offer any depth on Hoover, it would have been more interesting if the film went into detail about why Hoover did what he did but that does not happen. The film is largely uninteresting and can get very boring if you are not interested in J. Edgar Hoover. Overall, J. Edgar is an alright film that is not really worth the two hour time, not one of Leonardo DiCaprio's best films. I was kinda dissapointed by J. Edgar, not one of Clint Eastwood's best works either. Breakdown for "J. Edgar": Presentation: 5.7, Plot: 4.9, Acting: 7.3, Script: 5.1, Lasting Appeal: 5.5, Verdict: 5.3 out of 10 Expand
  25. 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 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. Expand
  26. 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. 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
  27. 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.
  28. Dec 14, 2011
    5
    J. Edgar is actually a pretty sloppy movie, trying to disguise itself as a heavy hitter. For someone this important in American history, I seriously think the focus of this biography should have shifted considerably. The movie should have been about the man's rise into power, and the major events and a few controversies that occurred during his reign. Unfortunately we got something which was gimmicky. Allot of its technical attributes were quite good, but thanks to its foggy storyline, the potentially good editing work fell flat. As for the controversial makeup work, I have mixed feelings about it. The work on Naomi Watts (who also gave a good performance) was excellent, Di Caprio was inconsistent, and Hammer's makeup job was awful and stunted his performance. The movie wasn't boring though, things were kept moving and dialogue was good, but the film itself was an ultimate misconception, I probably could have done without seeing it. Expand
  29. Dec 17, 2011
    5
    Disappointing! That's the only "one word" review I can give Leo's most recent effort to win an Oscar. His portrayal of the man who made the F.B.I. what we know it to be today is a sensational character study. Unfortunately, the script falls flat in telling the story of how the F.B.I. was transformed under Hoover, from a bureaucratic blip into the most potent police force in the world.

    Hoover's latent homosexuality and alleged cross dressing fetish is overplayed as is his devotion to his mother, played by the always terrific Judi Dench. Perhaps this story was too complicated to fit into one movie and Clint Eastwood's attempt to do justice to the protagonist and to history thus falls far short of the mark.

    The movie completely skips World War II and barely touches on the Cold War and the McCarthy era. I found this movie to contain too many snippets of history and too much focus on Hoover's sexuality. It is worth seeing for Leo's performance and the production values, which as expected from a Clint Eastwood movie, which are excellent.
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  30. 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 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
  31. Dec 25, 2011
    5
    Movie disappointed me, a dark assembly not to the movie was going well, make that left much to be desired, unless the actions of rescue Leo DiCaprio and Naomi Watts, a script that had no point of fascination that kept you glued to the screen.
  32. 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
    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. Expand
  33. Jan 12, 2012
    6
    This movie has both - strengths (great acting, good story, interesting plotting) and weaknesses (awful make up, stillness at some points, lack of insight at the other points). This movie could have been much more, even though it is still worth giving a try.
  34. lbl
    Jan 20, 2012
    5
    It could have been so good. It should have been so good. It wasn't. It was painful and slow and turgid. How do you make one of history's great characters so boring?
  35. 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 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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  36. 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 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
  37. 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.
  38. Feb 14, 2012
    5
    Well yes there isn't much positive to say about this movie, i knew from the Critics reviews that it wasn't very good. Clint Eastwood who did some impressive work disappointed me for the second time in a row after Hereafter though i liked this other movies which most people didn't. This movie was just so out of focused with the screenplay written in a hocus pocus way i mean all over the place. It was like watching a documentary on Hoover, reading his biography while hearing some made stories from your grandfather all at the same time and not getting anything out of it. i do appreciate Leonardo Di Caprio and Armie Hammer's performances but the movie itself is badly made, cold, dull, dry and soulless. Expand
  39. 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 does that here and does it quite well. Expand
  40. 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...
  41. Feb 28, 2012
    6
    Started as an interesting telling of the corruption of the fbi and the rules he had to break to get what he wanted done, but quickly dropped it all to spend more than half the movie to heavy-handedly explore the alleged possibility he was a crossdresser and homosexual.
  42. Mar 24, 2012
    6
    J. Edgar may not be one of the best biography film but it does in fact kept its jest for the audience to see it through the end . Sometime it feels that the movie is too long .Movie should have more crime related topic . Leonardo DiCaprio did an amazing work as the title role . although sometimes i felt that he wasn't trying to do J. Edgar's impression but other then that he was super . I never doubted Eastwood's direction and I still stand corrected . Overall J. Edgar has good acting , good direction but still its not so much fun to watch . Expand
  43. 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 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
  44. Jun 13, 2012
    5
    As with a lot of people I was highly anticipating this film but found it reasonably repetitive and monotonous. The hidden homosexual forbidden love was your stereotypical hollywood plot line, and maybe a little misconstrued. It does have its good moments, but all in all a fairly ordinary film, which is a shame considering Clint Eastwood directing Leonado DiCaprio.
    All in all I'd say a 5.2
    out of 10, alright to watch once but nothing to rush out and purchase. Expand
  45. Aug 7, 2012
    6
    As one of the greatest cloak and dagger artists in history, there is a lot of scope for drama in the tale of J. Edgar Hoover's life. Unfortunately, most of the more remarkable aspects of it are only dealt with as footnotes. The movie spreads itself far too thin, giving you tiny snippets about this and that but nothing in any detail or depth. As such, J. Edgar is a disappointment. Sadly, the movie is at it's best when dealing with it's repressed homosexual love story (even when the two male leads have almost no chemistry). With fine acting and period detailing, J. Edgar is entertaining enough but ultimately forgettable. Expand
  46. 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.
  47. 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 dull moment. Expand
  48. Sep 22, 2012
    6
    What starts off as an engrossing subtle objective take on Hoover's life by the end turns into a film with a certain agenda. I did not feel for Hoover as much as I found him an interesting man which is why I found the beginning to be great. However the last 45 minutes fail to move the story but instead the agenda of the screenwriter. Dicaprio delivers an outstanding performance in one of the best looking films of the year. It had great potential too bad both of Eastwood's recent directorial outings have started off great but slowly fall apart. Expand
  49. 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.
  50. 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 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
  51. Feb 3, 2013
    5
    Although well made, I found the subject matter all a tad too dry; there was little excitement and what there was appeared very sporadic. I did like the look of the film though; the muted colours matched the mood; Eastwood always has a good eye for a shot and it shows. I also quite liked the original music, also written by Eastwood, nothing too ostentations, but nicely matched to the action. The performances were all very good with DiCaprio easily standing out but I thought Naomi Watts was woefully underused. Over all, I can’t say I was entirely thrilled with this one. I felt the whole thing was maybe too ambitious. If they had concentrated on (say) the Lindbergh kidnapping and used that as the backdrop to the narrative then maybe it would have worked better. But sadly this is not one I can recommend I’m afraid.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED

    My score: 4.8/10.
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  52. 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
    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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  53. Apr 6, 2013
    6
    Si la performance de Leonardo DiCaprio mérite elle seule le visionnage du film, il faut également reconnaitre que cette biographie a de l'allure. Le réalisateur retrace parfaitement le parcours de ce personnage hors du commun qu'est Hoover, mais s'intéresse plus sa vie privée tumultueuse qu'à son travail, évitant ainsi les quelques longueurs propres aux biopics. Dommage que le maquillage soit faiblard et l'image trop terne, donnant l'ensemble un coté "amateur" qui ne ressemble pas Clint Eastwood. Expand
  54. 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
    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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  55. 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.
  56. Jul 11, 2014
    7
    good biopical but not a great movie. DiCaprio always delivers
  57. 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.