J. Edgar - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

J. Edgar Reviews

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November 27, 2016
The film was rubbish & very slow & no action
November 23, 2016
Boring, dull, stupid, and no good, J. Edgar was a pretty terrible movie from the legend Clint Eastwood.
½ November 21, 2016
I started watching this with some preconceived notions about J Edgar Hoover already in my head. My impressions of him were definitely expanded by this movie, so sensitively and carefully directed by Clint Eastwood. As you read my review, you might get the (correct) impression that I don't care much for Hoover in many regards, and yet, Eastwood's direction, from a screenplay written by Dustin Lance Black, and a scene acted by Armie Hammer as J Edgar's love, was able to bring me to tears at J Edgar's death scene.

Hoover had his nose in everything, wanted to know everything, wanted to manipulate and control everyone, wanted to bring everybody ELSE to justice, while he himself created his own rules, flaunted rules, abused his power for personal and financial gain, used information to his own benefit, and vengefully targeted people who didn't give him what he wanted. I already knew Hoover was responsible for trying to ruin the lives of a great many people, primarily anyone with any kind of communist or even just socialist beliefs, leanings, interests, friends, or family.

This drama is definitely not a movie you would watch for mindless entertainment. Be ready to sit patiently, let it develop at its own pace, and just soak up the knowledge of what this man has done to change our country. He was a mover and a shaker of the 20th century. A man who blackmailed American Presidents. He is only depicted blackmailing a couple of them, Roosevelt and Kennedy, which leads me to assume that he may have also tried to blackmail the other Presidents. He even blackmailed Martin Luther King Jr. in a nasty way, trying to convince him to reject his Nobel Peace Prize. King ignored the blackmail and accepted his prize. While this movie does not attempt to blame Hoover for King's assassination, I have read that the FBI had been requested to protect King at the speech where he was assassinated, and Hoover refused to allow them to do this. Who knows?

I had a preconceived opinion that J Edgar Hoover was ultimately responsible for John F Kennedy's assassination, but the movie did not hint at any such thing. The movie did, however, show that Hoover had motive. Hoover's attempts to blackmail and manipulate President Kennedy with secret wiretaps of President Kennedy's affairs are motive enough, for they would have created a conflict with Kennedy. If Hoover found out (and he probably would have) that Kennedy was planning retaliation or removing him from power, what would he have done? How far would Hoover go? And who really was behind the Vietnam War?

And why are we to believe people in similar positions of power aren't doing the same kinds of things right now that Hoover did? The FBI, CIA, and NSA have ever more intrusive and far reaching technologies to document every little thing in everybody's lives. There is definitely history of abuse of that power.

Many things stand out about J Edgar. He was an extraordinary man. He is portrayed in a very human and revealing manner by Eastwood, and well acted by Leonardo DiCaprio. I don't think Eastwood hates his subject. This biographical movie appears to be an honest look at the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of J Edgar Hoover, his achievements, his personal life, what made him who he was. I appreciate the attempt at a balanced and respectful biography.

A very driven man, Hoover accomplished a lot. He is responsible for making the FBI what it is, for the capture of the big name criminals of his day. He may not have made the arrests, but they happened on his order, by his methods, and because of his vision of what the FBI should be and his drive to make it into what it is.

Looking more at his personal life, one apparent personal tragedy for Hoover was that he was not able to fully consummate and live out his love relationship with Clive Tolson, played by Armie Hammer. Or maybe they did. Not sure. Hoover's mother's wishes and views heavily influenced his willingness to actualize his feelings for Tolson in a physical and sexual way, apparently, perhaps moreso while she was alive. To me, the relationship with Tolson was one of the more human aspects of Hoover's life, and Tolson seemed to try to be a voice of reason and moderation, as one of Hoover's 3 most trusted advisors. Those 3 advisers being Tolson, Hoover's mother Annie, and his secretary Helen Gandy, who destroyed his personal files upon Hoover's death, before President Nixon or anyone else could get their hands on them! Whew, good thing Gandy accomplished that, right? I wonder what President Nixon would have done with all that information!?

If there's one other person in history who reminds me of Hoover, it's Alexander the Great. Both dominated by strong mothers, both with strong homosexual leanings. Both highly driven their entire lives. Both commanding an army of whom they demanded complete and utter loyalty, obedience, and sacrifice, with Hoover's army being, of course, his FBI agents.

J Edgar is a must see for anyone studying 20th Century American history or 20th Century American government. You will learn a lot and come away with things to think about. The discussions coming from this movie could go in so many directions; it's excellent viewing for a discussion group.
November 9, 2016
Muddled but elevated to a good film by Leonardo DiCaprio's superb performance
September 13, 2016
A fascinating biopic of J. Edgar Hoover. I've seen the film a couple times now and I have to say this is one of Eastwood's most underrated films to date. Sure, the makeup and prosthetics do not work at all, and it is poorly lit throughout (plus the usual, overly de-saturated look you get in every Eastwood film makes it even harder to tell what's going on.) But for the majority of runtime, I found the story absolutely riveting. It humanizes its titular character, who, apparently, was a racist and homophobe, and delves deep into what made him such a powerful and controversial figure, public and private. I thought his relationship with his domineering mother, played brilliantly by Judi Dench, was interesting and his lifelong companionship with Clyde Tolson (a sublime Armie Hammer) was even more fascinating. It is a film that balances the liberal sensibility of its writer and the conservatism of its director, and standing in between them is DiCaprio, whom, I have to say, is very convincing as Hoover. It is a masterfully told tale of secret and power, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. "J. Edgar" is a solid piece of work.
August 25, 2016
I've always been interested in J. Edgar as a person because there are a lot of rumours about his private life yet no one knows what is true and what is made up. The movie kind of touches on all those so called stories, maybe with caution as it does not exactly say he was gay or a cross dresser but hints at him experiencing both aspects. I think Leo does a great job as always but the film does feel long and sometimes drags on with nothing much happening.

I think the issue here is that Edgar was a very interesting man and there is so much to look into and to show on a live screen that it would never work properly. I have always admired Eastwood's directing skills and i thought he did a decent job here too.
August 1, 2016
Technically proficient, well acted. But it somehow lacks an emotional connection. I didn't come to care for or sympathize with anyone in the movie.
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2016
A complete disaster that portrays Hoover as a selfish, insecure and intolerant man but we never find out who he really was. Besides, the makeup is atrocious, while the overly desaturated cinematography and dragging pace keep the audience even more emotionally distant.
July 10, 2016
I don't know if the disjointed timeline jumping did anything but detract the experience, I was confused. I saw an attempt to develop the character through themes he encounters and rencounters at various points of his life, but that was more for plot consistency than character, and it served neither. It took awhile to warmup to DiCaprio as Hoover, not his strongest work. And I am fairly exhasted with Tom Stern's muted color blue movies. Perhaps if the cinematography would change per era, we'd get something more lively and clever like Benjamin Button. The eras never felt very different, which may be a point about how Hoover saw the world, and didn't see it changing. But at the end of the day, was I totally moved? Somewhat, but not enough. Mild thumbs up.
June 28, 2016
Clint Eastwood, a veteran director delivers a polite and well executed biopic about one of the most controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century in America. Obsessed with the red invasion, J Edgar seems to have dedicated his life to eradicate communism from the surface of the earth. Struggling with his own demons and some personal secrets, the man remained dedicated and focused on his task till his dying breath.
On a technical level , the film is really well shot and the sets are lavishly reconstituted.
This may not appeal to everyone, but personally i was glad to watch it.
June 26, 2016
The story of J Edgar Hoover was compelling, but the back and forth between history and current required some mental gymnastics. As a black and white film, there was too much black. Maybe on the big screen the black and white would be easier than on my home TV. Interesting but difficult
June 16, 2016
A fascinating look at the creation of the FBI and American history from 1920-1970 or so. Amazing performance by Leo.
June 6, 2016
Another strong performance from DiCaprio bolsters this slowly paced drama directed by Clint Eastwood. Hoover is a man strong on values and nearly encyclopedic knowledge, neither of which lends to a good story telling vehicle. Instead of a linear story, which I would have preferred, we get snippets of history interspersed with present day happenings in the Nixon era. I enjoyed it, but would have enjoyed it much more if it were not so long and had more meat with the sides.
June 1, 2016
Repressed homosexual or not, Hoover was an asshole.
½ May 26, 2016
For a young film I've already seen this many times so far, I don't think it's great but I enjoy it. I like the history, etc. although there are obvious things which could have been improved such as pacing, chronological ordering which tends to be scattered and it could have worked completely linear instead, and the make-up too but it grows on you I guess. Worth re-watching to figure it out.
May 18, 2016
Great, reasonably balanced, biopic on a highly controversial figure

A study on J Edgar Hoover, famed long-serving director of the FBI. Explores his drivers and motivations, and personal life. Told through flashbacks as he narrates his career for his biography, we see how he built the FBI from scratch, some of his higher-profile cases (eg the Lindbergh baby), his obsession with Communists and anyone else he deemed enemies of the US and his relationship with Clyde Tolson, Assistant Director of the FBI, closest confidant and more.

A good study on a controversial, divisive, almost mystical, figure in US history. Not entirely complimentary, it gives a stark, and balanced, look at a very powerful, shaping force figure in US history.

Great performance from Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. Good support from Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts.
½ March 14, 2016
Decent biopic but only really skins the surface of Hoover's madness and malign influence.
½ March 12, 2016
DiCaprio delivers a great performance but the film is a drag. The pacing is all over the place and it just feels long and boring. I think the source material is interesting but I can see it better as a documentary or something like that. As a movie it just isn't very entertaining but it has impressive performances.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2016
The pace was slow, but more detrimentally the characters were hard to sympathize with.
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