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J. Edgar (2011)

tomatometer

43

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Reviews Counted: 220
Fresh: 95 | Rotten: 125

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a predictably powerhouse performance, but J. Edgar stumbles in all other departments with cheesy makeup, poor lighting, confusing narrative, and humdrum storytelling.

51

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 47
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 23

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a predictably powerhouse performance, but J. Edgar stumbles in all other departments with cheesy makeup, poor lighting, confusing narrative, and humdrum storytelling.

audience

45

liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 38,358

My Rating

Movie Info

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 (Leonardo DiCaprio) 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. -- (C) Warner Bros

R,

Drama

Dustin Lance Black

Feb 21, 2012

$37.3M

Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (224) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (125) | DVD (8)

The Hoover material is ugly and very American, and it might have made an authentic monster story. But the picture offered is muddled, cautious, and at cross purposes.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pleasing, intelligent film happy to describe Hoover's behaviour as monstrous but too balanced and searching to damn him as a monster.

January 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comments (9)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (4)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although Hoover's luster faded as his career went on, Eastwood's movie seems wan from the start.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Comment (1)
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Here's that J. Edgar Hoover biopic you asked for, or at least something that meets all the technical requirements to be considered one.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Film.com | Comment (1)
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With noirish lighting and most of the running time spent inside offices or cramped domestic rooms, Eastwood keeps the film claustrophobic, sometimes unpleasantly intimate.

September 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

DiCaprio never measures up to the task of creating a plausible interpretation of what enabled Hoover to be both heroic and maniacal.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

A lumbering miscalculation...

December 29, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Regardless of how you may feel about the film's vision of Hoover's private life, you have to respect J. Edgar for the conviction of its depiction. Very much like the resolve of the despotic man it so vividly portrays.

October 22, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

J. Edgar provides an intriguing look at one of America's icons but Eastwood fails to deliver a cohesive narrative or enough compelling insight into his subject.

October 2, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant
ScreenRant

The consistently negative study of Hoover, along with pell-mell story telling and a melodramatic and silly gay romance, make J. Edgar a disappointing film.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Self-serving, self-indulgent and about as dramatically effective as a school play.

July 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Hoover's magnetism derives from his intellect, certainty, power, and sense for myth-making, and DiCaprio bears that out with a performance of a man who himself may be constantly performing as though he has nothing to hide.

June 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Despite the odd sharp observation, somehow J. Edgar comes off like the Max Fischer Players' production of Serpico... [Blu-ray]

April 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

A failure, but an interesting failure when you step back and contemplate the project as a whole. Not really anybody's idea of a good time at the cinema that, though, is it?

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comments (3)

Needless to say, as J Edgar ages, DiCaprio flounders. It is simply preposterous for him to play a 77-year-old man! All the elderly prosthetic make-up in the world cannot disguise his adolescent cheekbones from beaming through.

March 10, 2012 Full Review Source: UTV

A decent take on one of America's most prolific political figures and people with an interest in American history will get a lot out of it

March 8, 2012 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

DiCaprio keeps the film afloat, but J. Edgar lacks any real controversy and never fully reaches deep within the man's dark psyche.

February 23, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

Hoover may have been the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man in the world, or he may have been a ruthless bastard; we wouldn't know from Eastwood's cautious portrayal of him.

February 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

na senario poy se alla xeria eite tha ypefere ap' thn epilektikothta ths istorikhs toy afhghshs, eite tha pnigotan sto camp ths psyxologikhs toy aitiologhshs, anti na metatrapei se psyxraimo apologismo twn kalwn prothesewn poy odhgoyn sthn kolash

February 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses | Comments (2)
Movies for the Masses

Clint Eastwood's direction lacks focus, most notably in the film's pacing which makes J. Edgar's two-hour-plus running time feel even longer than it is,

February 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

Besides a rip roaring performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar suffers from the heavy handed direction of Clint Eastwood who manages to turn this biopic on one of the most notorious men of all time into an uninspired bore.

February 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Isn't it high time that Eastwood cut loose and made that third Orangutan movie?

January 31, 2012 Full Review Source: The Ooh Tray | Comment (1)
The Ooh Tray

the prolific veteran filmmaker, whose first feature as a director was released the same year as Spielberg's career kick-starter Duel (1971), enters his 80s with a rich and sophisticated biopic.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Crikey | Comment (1)

Audience Reviews for J. Edgar

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
November 22, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

A film about J. Edgar Hoover should have far more interesting than this. I'm glad Eastwood didn't shy away from telling all about Hoovers relationship with Clyde Tolson but with the many rumours and secrets surrounding Hoover I have to admit I expected something a little more juicy. Fair enough he stuck to the facts etc, the direction was good and the performances were good on the whole, it's just that it is dreadfully dull. Leonardo DiCaprio grimacing in an old man mask borrowed from the makers of Jackass does not a great performance make. I'm not a Leonardo DiCaprio fan and I'm getting less so with every film of his that I see.
January 8, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

A very believable portrait of a very unhappy person who could never accept himself. Excellent film, well written and acted, with DiCaprio giving an outstanding performance. The "aging make-up" of the main characters is rather poor, in my opinion, though. However, the overall quality of the film made me forgive that thanks to Clint Eastwood's style of directing....
September 1, 2012
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

"Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe."

J. Edgar Hoover, powerful head of the FBI for nearly 50 years, looks back on his professional and personal life.

REVIEW
Told largely in flashbacks that span the first indications in 1919 of a Bolshevik revolution threatening America, to 1972, when Hoover died, J. Edgar stars Leonardo DiCaprio in a mesmerizing performance as the tough-as-nails FBI man who prided himself of getting rid of the rotten elements in American society, and ordering his bureau and his agents to live up to his professional standards of loyalty and patriotism. Both Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black depict the great things Hoover's FBI did, but they don't whitewash the fact that he was also a shameless, unapologetic huckster and salesman at boosting the FBI image at home and abroad, sometimes taking credit for certain big FBI catches (capturing the killer of Charles Lindbergh's baby; the killing of Dillinger) that he was never even present at-and, of course, the fact that his relationship with his close aid Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) was, how shall we say, more than merely professional.

Eastwood, more content now to be behind the camera than in front of it, gets a great performance out of DiCaprio, as well as solid turns by Naomi Watts (as Hoover's long-time secretary Helen Gundy), Dame Judi Dench (as his mother Annie), and Jessica Hecht as the notorious subversive Emma Goldman, most of them unrecognizable, including DiCaprio, under all the prosthetics and make-up, but still able to deliver the goods. As a director, Eastwood proved long ago, going all the way back to his directing debut Play Misty For Me in 1971, that he was more than just Dirty Harry or the Man With No Name, that he was a director of offbeat and extremely challenging projects, whether or not he was also on the other side of the camera as an actor. Recent films of his like Changeling, Letters From Iwo Jima, Invictus, Hereafter, and Million Dollar Baby proved this; and J. Edgar does as well.
September 1, 2012
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

    1. J. Edgar Hoover: Funny how even the dearest face will fade away in time, but most clearly I remember your eyes with a sort of teasing smile in them, and the feeling of that soft spot just northeast of the corner of your mouth.
    – Submitted by Eric H (2 years ago)
    1. J. Edgar Hoover: Clyde! Don't leave me!
    – Submitted by Alejandro O (2 years ago)
    1. J. Edgar Hoover: It's time this generation learns the difference between villan and hero. Even great men can be corrupted.
    – Submitted by Brandon M (2 years ago)
    1. Anne Marie Hoover: I'd rather have a dead son than a daffodil.
    – Submitted by Lyndon L (2 years ago)
    1. J. Edgar Hoover: Imagine if every citizen in this country were uniquely identifiable by the pattern on their fingers, imagine how quickly we could find them, if they committed a crime.
    – Submitted by Dennis A (2 years ago)
    1. Richard Nixon: Seal off his office. I want those files!
    – Submitted by Dennis A (2 years ago)
View all quotes (17)

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