J. Edgar - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

J. Edgar Reviews

Top Critic
David Thomson
The New Republic
June 20, 2013
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.
Top Critic
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
January 17, 2012
A pleasing, intelligent film happy to describe Hoover's behaviour as monstrous but too balanced and searching to damn him as a monster.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
November 11, 2011
Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
November 11, 2011
Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
November 11, 2011
Although Hoover's luster faded as his career went on, Eastwood's movie seems wan from the start.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Eric D. Snider
Film.com
November 11, 2011
Here's that J. Edgar Hoover biopic you asked for, or at least something that meets all the technical requirements to be considered one.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
November 10, 2011
Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
November 10, 2011
How believable is DiCaprio? When I first heard he had been cast as Hoover, I couldn't think of another actor physically less likely to pull it off. But he's surprisingly good.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
November 10, 2011
Within the sprawling biopic that is J. Edgar beats the heart of a love story.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Charlie McCollum
San Jose Mercury News
November 10, 2011
For all its virtues -- or, perhaps, because of them -- J. Edgar is a disappointment.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 10, 2011
This far-from-perfect film is hobbled by uneven performances and a script studded with historical bullet points. But it's a strong tribute to Eastwood's personal vision.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 10, 2011
J. Edgar is an arduous trek through the history books, a gloomy glide down the marble halls of a Washington institution.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
November 10, 2011
That "J. Edgar'' never ultimately convinces - that at times it's quite entertainingly bad - can be blamed on both an unfocused script and the project's very bigness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
November 10, 2011
[DiCaprio] digs into the role of Hoover with relish and commitment
Top Critic
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
November 10, 2011
It's gratifying to see an old bully outed as a hypocrite, but by distracting us from bigger crimes, "J. Edgar" is a public enemy.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Tasha Robinson
AV Club
November 10, 2011
Eastwood's prim, respectful biography presents Hoover in turn as a muddy political metaphor, a lesson in self-mythologizing, and a case history in repression, but never particularly as a man.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
November 10, 2011
"J. Edgar" too often feels like the rough draft of the great movie it could have been; a character sketch, not quite a portrait.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
November 10, 2011
DiCaprio wrings truth out of a cipher. The Hoover of both headline and whispers comes into sharp relief in this Oscar-beckoning performance.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Dana Stevens
Slate
November 9, 2011
Whether unintentionally or by design, the movie never really makes a case either for or against the troubled figure at its center.
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
November 9, 2011
This may be a closety film about a closety character, but the tensions between Eastwood's direction and the script he's directing keep us off-guard in an intriguing way. The results, whatever one thinks of them, may be square, but they're all of a piece.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
November 9, 2011
J. Edgar eloquently argues its case by skipping through Hoover's entire career, from the founding of the Bureau in 1935 to his death in 1972.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
November 9, 2011
One of the worst ideas anybody's ever had, a mendacious, muddled, sub-mediocre mess that turns some of the most explosive episodes of the 20th century into bad domestic melodrama...
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
November 9, 2011
Eastwood, forsaking his deliberate rhythms for something speedier and wordier, turns J. Edgar into a dramatic essay about how the law and repression, heroism and corruption, fused in Hoover.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 9, 2011
Despite being buried in layers of prosthetic latex, DiCaprio is a roaring wonder as J. Edgar Hoover. Even when the film trips on its tall ambitions, you can't shake it off.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
November 9, 2011
Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" is a lumbering miscalculation, a slow and clumsy re-think of the late F.B.I. founder J. Edgar Hoover's life and career that views his him through the lens of his alleged homosexuality.
| Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
November 9, 2011
Fatally cautious.
Top Critic
Mark Rabinowitz
CNN.com
November 9, 2011
It is, quite simply, a poorly conceived and constructed film.
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
November 9, 2011
It is flawed but ultimately captivating.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
November 9, 2011
DiCaprio wears the persona of Hoover with ease, again reminding audiences that the young man who made so many girls swoon with Titanic has grown into an actor of great range and capability.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
November 9, 2011
The film manages to be both sensational and stodgy, like a guided tour that goes on until it drones.
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
November 9, 2011
DiCaprio may well receive a Best Actor Oscar for his tour de force as the conflicted FBI director -- greatly abetted by Hammer (who played the Winklevoss twins in "The Social Network'') in his first major role as the flamboyant but frustrated Tolson.
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
November 9, 2011
Too ambiguous, too gentle and too noncommittal to get the job done.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
November 9, 2011
As a period biopic, "J. Edgar" is masterful. Few films span seven decades this comfortably.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
November 8, 2011
"J. Edgar" is a somber, enigmatic, darkly fascinating tale, and how could it be otherwise?
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
November 8, 2011
As a colorful chapter in American infamy, it's a story worth telling in a better, more suspenseful film, but J. Edgar does not hang together.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
November 8, 2011
J. Edgar is infuriatingly coy and noncritical about its subject, an undeniable patriot but also an alarmist and a ruiner of lives.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
November 8, 2011
Eastwood and his team of art directors have an unfailing eye for period detail - fetishists for vintage office supplies and stationery will be in hog heaven - but too often the narration feels like a crutch when it's not outright redundant.
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
November 8, 2011
Although hardly flawless, Eastwood's biopic is his richest, most ambitious movie since the Letters From Iwo Jima-Flags of Our Fathers duo, if not Unforgiven.
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
November 8, 2011
The film ages DiCaprio convincingly, Hammer less so. Still, Hammer almost steals the show. While DiCaprio has some noteworthy scenes, it's tough to forget it's the actor playing Hoover. In contrast, Hammer and Watts disappear into more subtle roles.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
November 8, 2011
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
November 8, 2011
Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
November 8, 2011
For all its rough edges, J. Edgar is finally a thought-provoking emotion picture of deep sadness, a far-ranging elegy disguised as a historical drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
November 8, 2011
J.Edgar is one of the best films of 2011.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Jake Coyle
Associated Press
November 7, 2011
The resonating images of Hoover are of a man increasingly and tragically out of step with time. Thankfully, it's been quite the opposite for Eastwood.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
November 7, 2011
The film moves fast, but Eastwood's touch is light and sure, his judgment sound, the moments of pathos held just long enough. And he cast the right star as his equivocal hero-fool.
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
November 6, 2011
It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings.
Top Critic
Peter Debruge
Variety
November 4, 2011
True to Eastwood's understated nature, J. Edgar offers the "tasteful" treatment of such potentially salacious subject matter, though a more outre Oliver Stone-like approach might have made for a livelier film.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
November 4, 2011
Tackles its trickiest challenges with plausibility and good sense, while serving up a simmeringly caustic view of its controversial subject's behavior, public and private.