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

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6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 174 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 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: 33 out of 57
  2. Negative: 11 out of 57
  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. 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- 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 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
  4. 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
  5. 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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  6. 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
  7. Apr 6, 2013
    0
    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

See all 57 User Reviews

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