J. Edgar

J. Edgar Image
Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

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6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 200 Ratings

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  • Summary: J. Edgar explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century. As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he heldJ. Edgar explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century. As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 42
  2. Negative: 4 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 8, 2011
    90
    J. Edgar is a somber, enigmatic, darkly fascinating tale, and how could it be otherwise?
  2. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Nov 8, 2011
    80
    Mr. Eastwood doesn't just shift between Hoover's past and present, his intimate life and popular persona, he also puts them into dialectic play, showing repeatedly how each informed the other.
  3. Reviewed by: Jaime N. Christley
    Nov 9, 2011
    75
    Black's script, in the wrong hands, could have come under fire for confusing Hoover's twisted mind with his homosexuality or his problems with Mother. Eastwood doesn't seem to give a fuck, and only opts for one overt visual match, depicting as mirror images Hoover's lifeless corpse and the remains of the Lindbergh baby.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 10, 2011
    63
    Most disappointing, Eastwood's decades-spanning portrait reveals little about the man himself.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Nov 6, 2011
    20
    Between Eastwood's direction and Dustin Lance Black's screenplay, what you feel leaking off the screen in every scene is missed opportunity.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 60
  2. Negative: 10 out of 60
  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. Expand
  2. 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-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! Expand
  3. 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", FBIPerhaps 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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  4. 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 forWhat 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
  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 careUnfortunately, 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. Collapse
  6. 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 theDisappointing! 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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  7. 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 JohnnyThe 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! Expand

See all 60 User Reviews

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