Clint Eastwood's biopic of J. Edgar Hoover has elements of a good drama, but merely brushes over the various controversies in a suprisingly humdrum narrative.
Julian Roman - MovieWeb
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.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
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.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
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.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
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.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
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.
J. Hoberman - Village Voice
Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
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.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Within the sprawling biopic that is J. Edgar beats the heart of a love story.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
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.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
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.
David Denby - New Yorker
As a period biopic, "J. Edgar" is masterful. Few films span seven decades this comfortably.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
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.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
[DiCaprio] digs into the role of Hoover with relish and commitment
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
J. Edgar is an arduous trek through the history books, a gloomy glide down the marble halls of a Washington institution.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
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.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty.
Tom Long - Detroit News
It is flawed but ultimately captivating.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
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.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
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.
Peter Debruge - Variety
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.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
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.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
DiCaprio wrings truth out of a cipher. The Hoover of both headline and whispers comes into sharp relief in this Oscar-beckoning performance.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Here's that J. Edgar Hoover biopic you asked for, or at least something that meets all the technical requirements to be considered one.
Eric D. Snider - Film.com
Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
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...
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
Whether unintentionally or by design, the movie never really makes a case either for or against the troubled figure at its center.
Dana Stevens - Slate
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.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
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.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
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.
Jake Coyle - Associated Press
The film manages to be both sensational and stodgy, like a guided tour that goes on until it drones.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
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.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
J.Edgar is one of the best films of 2011.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
"J. Edgar" is a somber, enigmatic, darkly fascinating tale, and how could it be otherwise?
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
There are few films to which the much-overused slogan "The personal is political" is better applied.
It's a deeply silly movie. American history as kitsch, played out like a drag show.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
With noirish lighting and most of the running time spent inside offices or cramped domestic rooms, Eastwood keeps the film claustrophobic, sometimes unpleasantly intimate.
Jennie Kermode - Eye for Film
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.
David Thomson - The New Republic
DiCaprio never measures up to the task of creating a plausible interpretation of what enabled Hoover to be both heroic and maniacal.
Al Alexander - The Patriot Ledger
A lumbering miscalculation...
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.
Erick Weber - 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.
Ben Kendrick - ScreenRant
There is no better way to summarise the ways in which Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic fails: J. Edgar is just boring. It just is. It looks boring, it sounds boring, it feels boring, it IS boring.
Ali Gray - TheShiznit.co.uk
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.
Amy Curtis - We Got This Covered
Self-serving, self-indulgent and about as dramatically effective as a school play.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - 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.
Mark Pfeiffer - 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]
Peter Canavese - 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?
Catherine Bray - Film4
Leonard Maltin - ReelzChannel.com
Richard Roeper - ReelzChannel.com
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.
Brian Henry Martin - 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
Cameron Williams - 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.
R. L. Shaffer - 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.
John J. Puccio - 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
Joseph Proimakis - 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,
Steve Newall - 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.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
Isn't it high time that Eastwood cut loose and made that third Orangutan movie?
Ed Whitfield - 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.
Luke Buckmaster - Crikey
La detallada y convincente actuacion de Leo DiCaprio (bajo quilos de maquillaje) es el principal atractivo de esta biografia de J. Edgar Hoover. Es cuando se desnuda su alma torturada que la pelicula alcanza sus momentos mas intensos.
Enrique Buchichio - Uruguay Total
Jamais consegue oferecer qualquer tipo de resposta para perguntas obviamente importantes em uma biografia como esta, a comecar pela mais relevante: quem era este homem?
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
DiCaprio and Hammer work hard, but under Eastwood's half-hearted direction they merely seem like teenagers - wearing their father's suits, and with talcum powder salt-and-peppering their hair - out of their depth on a high school stage.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
Clint Eastwood misses the target, again, with laboured, sombre drama.
Don Groves - sbs.com.au
DiCaprio does well to flesh out the figure beneath the fake jowls, wrinkles and liver spots, even if he does progressively resemble a waxworks dummy, but the film itself fails to come alive.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
It's enjoyable, too evenly paced, and much inferior to Larry Cohen's 1977 The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, a lively act of revenge starring Broderick Crawford as the pathetic, paranoid puritan.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
DiCaprio's boyish looks don't age well, no matter how talented the make up team. For those familiar with Hoover's appearance, this is accentuated to a serious degree.
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
An elegant film from a classy filmmaker that will satisfy a discerning, intelligent audience
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
This muddled melodrama adds up to a missed opportunity.
Dan Stewart - Little White Lies
Unfortunately, most will come out of viewing this film none the wiser about Hoover, but their faith in another DiCaprio triumph will be further endorsed.
Lisa Giles-Keddie - Real.com
Eastwood rather deftly suggests a man who is both naive and repressed, while making it clear that what really drove him was his work - and his ego.
Brian Pendreigh - Radio Times
- Empire Magazine
Hoover was one of the darkest figures in US history but Eastwood and his scriptwriter have forgiven all in a hazy resignation to old age coming to everyone and love being what matters.
David Sexton - This is London
One part Charles Foster Kane to three parts Elmer Fudd.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
Eastwood crafts a meticulous and elegiac portrait of the man, whose professional troubles were almost as fascinating as the rumours surrounding his close relationship with FBI assistant director Clyde Tolson.
- Liverpool Echo
Given that the man is among the most controversial figures of recent US history, making a film this tedious really takes some doing.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
Without enough on-screen drama this can sometimes feel like a bum-numbing slog but it provides insight into Hoover's career, brought to life by a stunning DiCaprio.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
Hoover has been portrayed for so long by the Left as a monster that it's refreshing to see Eastwood illuminate his achievements...
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
The picture has many fine qualities and is a rewarding watch...
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
J. Edgar is earnestly watchable. But it makes no contribution to a better understanding of Hoover...
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
The effect of Hoover on America itself is largely ignored, its speculations are cramped, and its actors hampered with plastic, padding and wigs.
Eastwood's sluggish biopic fails to unravel the heart of this polarising character as it hops back-and-forth in time, despite a fiery and charismatic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.
Philip Concannon - The Skinny
[DiCaprio] pulls off this utterly thankless task better than you would imagine and a third best actor Oscar nomination surely beckons.
Graham Young - Birmingham Post
J. Edgar is not without its flaws but remains worth watching thanks to a terrific central performance from DiCaprio and strong support from Armie Hammer.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Uneven but not without interest and peppered with arresting moments, hopefully J. Edgar won't mark the last time Clint steps behind the camera.
Rob Daniel - Sky Movies
A pleasing, intelligent film happy to describe Hoover's behaviour as monstrous but too balanced and searching to damn him as a monster.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
Like DiCaprio's make-up, Clint Eastwood's biopic tries to cover too much.
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
You keep wondering why anyone would bother with this spotty history lesson viewed through the distorted lens of such a despotic character and, much worse for dramatic purposes, apparently such a boring one.
Richard Knight - Knight at the Movies
Ultimately a film that offers compelling details of a powerful but peculiar figure but the full picture remains just as enigmatic as Hoover himself.
Bruce Bennett - Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
A handsome, ambitious period drama full of modern-day parallels.
Jamie Graham - Total Film
One of the five best GLBT-themed narrative films of 2011.
Fr. Chris Carpenter - Movie Dearest
With so much material to choose from (career, filing innovations, politics, sexuality, 'secret files'), it is near-impossible to chronicle the life of J. Edgar Hoover in a feature film.
S. James Wegg - JWR
How Eastwood has managed to create so dull a film is actually quite stunning.
Nick Deigman - Fan The Fire
J. Edgar is a love story. The fact that one of the lovers is someone you wouldn't want at your dinner table means that the film is handsome, well crafted, but not nearly as involving as it might have been.
CJ Johnson - ABC Radio (Australia)
...a colossal misfire that is, above all else, downright boring for much of its overlong running time...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
As much as he wants to emulate Jimmy Cagney, Hoover appears during a couple of FBI team arrests to be too anxious to use his weapon. This translates -- awkwardly and obviously -- to his relationship with Tolson as well.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
A laboured, morally questionable portrait of the would-be power broker that, moreover, is badly undermined by some dubious special-effects decisions.
The biggest problem with the film is its strict adherence to the familiar biopic formula of taking place entirely within a nest of flashbacks.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Eastwood has a nice touch as a filmmaker. He doesn't succumb to the temptation to make Hoover into a caricature, a monster or a buffoon. He gives us a multi-faceted character with a lot of complexity, expertly portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
A fascinating portrayal of a truly complicated and often unlikeable man.
Tom Brennan - Dark Horizons
Hoover's lack of credibility as the narrator of his own story makes this yet another of Eastwood's confrontations with America's proud yet contradictory national history, as previously examined in such films as 'Unforgiven' and 'Flags of Our Fathers.'
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Not really a convincing and three-dimensional portrait of the life of Hoover.
Mark R. Leeper - Mark Leeper's Reviews
Not only among the year's worst films, but it marks the rock bottom of Eastwood's output as director.
Phil Hall - Film Threat
An intriguing story about a man who was at odds with himself and, in fact, his country at times, "J. Edgar" paints a portrait of the first director of the FBI.
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
The picture has more of a "greatest hits" feel, rather than the feeling of a comprehensive, vivid portrait of the man's life.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
DiCaprio again proves to be a chameleon capable of tackling any task set before him.
Phil Villarreal - OK! Magazine
It's a reliable film that in a fair-minded and caustic way adds to the legacy of Hoover as a powerful but compromised lawman... .
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
The portrait is not sensationalistic -- and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it sympathetic, neither would I call it unsympathetic.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
The sort of staidly respectable, competently directed biopic that gives a bad name to competently directed biopics, and possibly to respectability.
Steven D. Greydanus - Christianity Today
DiCaprio's performance is something to admire, the movie around it less so.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
... occupies a safe middle ground between expose and unrequited romance.... the opposite of an Oliver Stone smear job: a careful, rigorously fair-mined depiction of a man who deserved less and, in a bizarre way, more.
Glenn Lovell - CinemaDope
J Edgar and Incomplete Portrait
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
Ultimately, J. Edgar feels like more of a staid museum piece than a vital bit of moviemaking.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
Between the cross-dressing and pleas of 'Please don't leave me, Clyde!' brace yourself to see the vulnerable underbelly, literally and figuratively, of an anguished icon knocked off his pedestal.
Kam Williams - AALBC.com
cleverly uses the familiar tropes of the biopic against itself to blur the lines between verifiable fact, elaboration and pure speculation
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Eastwood's take on J. Edgar Hoover feels like a major miscalculation.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
Exquisitely designed and directed, with finely tuned performances that shine even through some heavy make-up, this true story never quite succeeds in conveying its central relationship.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio are to be commended for wanting to make an old-fashioned biopic, educating people on an American legend. But did they have to make it so long, boring, and uninformative?
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
Goes wrong in just about every way that a biopic can go wrong. Plenty of wrong choices, starting with the makeup
Stephen Silver - Patch
High expectations but low delivery; one of the major disappointments of the year
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Performances by DiCaprio, Hammer and Dench make this Eastwood film worth your two-plus hours.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
If there's one thing that comes across stridently and passionately from Clint Eastwood's curiously blah biopic... it is this: Leonardo DiCaprio really wants an Oscar...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Much to admire, but eventually becomes too laborious
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
A great performance inside just a good movie.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
Long-winded and trite, this two-and-a-half-hour exercise in Oscar bait plays like a dramatized Wikipedia entry that hasn't been edited for innuendo, half-truths and self-serving revisionism.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
J. Edgar is a noble failure, but a failure all the same.
Pete Vonder Haar - Houston Press
Interesting things happen onscreen, but there is an inexplicably empty, sterile feel to the whole affair.
Bill Clark - FromTheBalcony
Structural flaws that include inexplicable time flips all but derail Clint Eastwood's otherwise thoughtful biopic of one of America's more problematic historical figures.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
The focus, for better or worse, renders this less a comprehensive biopic, more a Brokeback Bureau.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
The history of J. Edgar Hoover's life and the times in which he served are interesting, the man - and his character - are not.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
Because Hoover is both complex and enigmatic, it's no wonder that that 'J. Edgar' is only fitfully engaging.
Dan Lybarger - KC Active
It's so careful that it rarely rises above bland, even though its central figure is anything but.
Matt Soergel - Florida Times-Union
Easily the best thing Eastwood has done in years, though that's not exactly praise considering the director's recent years include such turgid duds like Gran Torino, Invictus and Hereafter.
Radheyan Simonpillai - AskMen.com
In the end, the reality comes from a physically and emotionally persuasive performance, with the stiff body language and precise diction of someone afraid to show weakness.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It's a perfectly mediocre picture typical of award season, running too long with some good performances but lacking a definitive punch.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
I suppose the ultimate failings of J. Edgar have to be laid at the feet of Clint Eastwood, which I hate to do because he continues to hold the title of 'senior citizen you'd least want to tangle with in a bar fight.'
Mathew DeKinder - Suburban Journals of St. Louis
With the various historical figures and events just getting scant attention, the overall pic feels somewhat like a disjointed highlight reel, even if DiCaprio and Hammer are good (Parental Movie Review also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Leonardo DiCaprio is superb. The casting, costumes, and period-appropriate touches are flawless. But the film offers few sparks.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
J. Edgar may be well-made and well-acted, but it's also bloodless, unfocused and at times regrettably dull.
Kevin Williamson - Jam! Movies
'Edgar' worth investigating
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Leonardo DiCaprio is not the first name that springs to mind as the embodiment of legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover-unlike, for instance, the title character in the upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
Eastwood delivers an entertaing enough Best Hits version of Hoover's eventful life.
J. Edgar connects with viewers on an emotional level, charting the man's complicated love affairs-with his mother, his secretary, his deputy and his country.
Annlee Ellingson - Paste Magazine
DiCaprio's braying, scowling performance is reminiscent of an impersonator rather than a human being. His constriction works hand-in-jowl with this straight-jacketed film that, other than make-up, displays few layers.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
Directed with a steady hand, "J. Edgar" is a film with much more flash then substance. A straight-forward biography, the film moves along evenly. But with no emotional high or low point, there is nothing that makes you sit up and take notice.
Michael A. Smith - MediaMikes
We get straightforward narration and expository dialogue that introduces each time-traveling vignette and dictates Hoover's tiresome "me versus them" rationalizations for whatever unscrupulous thing he did to stop them.
Alison Gang - San Diego Union-Tribune
Such a wildly divergent story might have been told more effectively with a heaping helping of style, but Eastwood plays it safe while the screenplay is full of all kinds of innuendo and subtle dark humor.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
A solid but staid portrait of a fascinating man.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
Two hours spent with the man are such a chore that it's hard to imagine why lifelong confidants Tolson and Gandy suffered his toxic, rapid-fire company for entire decades.
Brian Juergens - AfterElton.com
Although Hoover's luster faded as his career went on, Eastwood's movie seems wan from the start.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
This one at least keeps us thinking and puzzling well after the credits roll.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Sorry, fans of dynamic, emotional, storytelling.
Dave White - Movies.com
It's not often that a Clint Eastwood movie ends and the first words out my mouth are, "That's it?"
Grae Drake - Movies.com
J. Edgar is the latest in Clint Eastwood's late-period series of stately duds.
Norman Wilner - NOW Toronto
A biopic about the director of the FBI for 50 years whose legacy is today's us-versus-them approach in public life.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
It's about more than the dress.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
A fascinating if flawed film about a fascinating and flawed figure.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
The movie has too many weaknesses to overcome. They include the heavy layers of prosthetic latex makeup on the aging characters, a desaturated color scheme draining the screen of vitality, a sparse piano-driven instrumental score, inconsequential...
Keith Cohen - Entertainment Spectrum
The man who early on in his career realized the power of having secret files on the biggest movers and shakers of his generation deserved better than this overprotective biopic treatment. For once, I'd lobby for the Oliver Stone approach.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
The period design, covering the 1920s and 30s, is well done and the money was well spent on cars and clothes. But, looks alone do not make a film. It has to have heart, too, and I do not think "J. Edgar" has one.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
A remarkably cheerless affair-grim, disjointed, and paced like a snail funeral.
Kurt Loder - Reason Online
The look feels genuine, the performances (if you can get past the bad makeup) are solid, but the story plays things too straight.
Peter Paras - E! Online
Even though "J. Edgar" never cracks the code of its title character, I was absorbed by its swift 136 minutes.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
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.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
For all its virtues -- or, perhaps, because of them -- J. Edgar is a disappointment.
Charlie McCollum - San Jose Mercury News
Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the role of J. Edgar Hoover with his usual gusto, but the resulting film offers a detached, meandering account of the controversial figure.
Jon Niccum - Kansas City Star
This is conceptually interesting, but it's clumsily delivered by Eastwood, whose movie is a succession of dull interior scenes, expository conversation and fractured chronology.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Throughout, Eastwood's technique and craft are predictably solid.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
Somewhat academic, and deliberately paced, J. EDGAR is still a measured, thoughful biopic, featuring a surprisingly uncanny performance from DiCaprio.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
DiCaprio's performance keeps us tuned in and intrigued
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
Eastwood and DiCaprio have delivered a nuanced story about a man, a mythos, and an institution that relies on the facts rather than the legend.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
What's the motivation for the earnest, handsome, well-acted, unenlightening, workaday J. Edgar in 2011?
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
Watching J. Edgar reminded this critic of sitting in a dimly lit history class after tossing back a tablespoon of NyQuil.
Tyler Hanley - Palo Alto Weekly
Consistently interesting as intellectual fodder but so intent on not becoming sensationalistic that it's rarely emotionally compelling.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
A dreary slog through 40 years of history that were nowhere near as dull as what's onscreen here.
Ian Buckwalter - The Washingtonian
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.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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.
Tasha Robinson - AV Club
"J. Edgar" too often feels like the rough draft of the great movie it could have been; a character sketch, not quite a portrait.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
"Slightly above average but not much."
Fred Topel - CraveOnline
J. Edgar isn't the awards-worthy contender we were hoping for but instead just another in a long line of over-hyped 2011 theatrical releases.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Eastwood shows too much leniency with Dustin Lance Black's screenplay, dutifully following a flawed blueprint, ending up with a dismal, unenlightening motion picture, at times bordering on character assassination.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
An occasionally dull and rarely engaging run-of-the-mill biopic, J. Edgar plays things far too safe for a story about one of the most polarizing figures in American history.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
Disappointing and unentertaining
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
Eastwood has a clear idea of what is necessary to make a hugely successful film.
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
The Academy Award that has eluded Leo in the past seems destined to be within his grasp.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
It's all too earnest, to the point of serving, unwittingly or otherwise, as an apologia.
Stephanie Zacharek - Movieline
Perhaps J. Edgar works against Eastwood's finest gift as a filmmaker, his instinct for intimate details that in this case don't matter. Maybe a director who isn't as one-take efficient would better notice the flaws as they unfold and accumulate.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
A puzzlingly misconceived production, a truly troubling experience, the sort of movie that makes you feel ill at ease as you leave the theater.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Well-acted biopic tackles complex character; OK for teens.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
Ella Taylor - NPR
It is, quite simply, a poorly conceived and constructed film.
Mark Rabinowitz - CNN.com
Worth seeing for DiCaprio's performance, which is sadly hampered by confusing direction and a poorly constructed screenplay.
Matthew Razak - Flixist.com
DiCaprio astonishes. It is a revelation. Eastwood directs another sad love story but leaves his hackneyed, over-used score behind.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
DiCaprio is as effective as possible while laboring under pounds of aging makeup. He is, by all accounts, OK.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Too ambiguous, too gentle and too noncommittal to get the job done.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
J. Edgar Hoover is an unpleasant guy, and spending two-plus hours with him is not a fun experience.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
Ultimately undone by a whole lot of bad decisions.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
Leonardo dolls up for danger? Okay, so there is a brief moment in J. Edgar where he dons his dead mother's dress and pearls. But maybe in a Norman Bates moment, he just misses her. In any case sorry, Clint did not make my day.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
A figure as divisive and compelling as J. Edgar Hoover demands a movie that provokes some kind of debate other than whether Leonardo DiCaprio will win an Oscar.
Jim Vejvoda - IGN Movies
The gravity and doubt of DiCaprio's performance keeps the gossip grounded.
William Goss - Orlando Weekly
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.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Leonardo DiCaprio's committed performance is the main reason to see this wordy, speculative account of the life of imperious, obsessive FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Kevin Lally - Film Journal International
Power doesn't necessarily make intriguing character. Is Clint next considering a movie about Henry Kissinger or Karl Rove?
Tony Macklin - tonymacklin.net
It's not Leo's fault, but this shallow, conventional biopic is a snooze. On the Eastwood scale closer to Flags of Our Fathers - Serious, Important, Dull - than masterful.
Caryn James - James on screenS
Kind Of A Drag
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
If only Black or Eastwood had an idea of purpose or a definite statement about Hoover (The movie offers ample opportunities), those parts could have made a cohesive whole.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
Clint is a talented composer, but this film needed a much better score than it received. I would bet that hiring Alexandre Desplat, a composer who is much more adept at expressing emotion in softer films, could have improved the experience immensely.
Danny Minton - Fort Bend Sun
Leonardo DiCaprio has the unenviable task of playing a character without a single redeeming feature.
Gerald Peary - Boston Phoenix
This is not quite the be-all, end-all biopic of J. Edgar Hoover that prospective viewers were expecting, or at least hoped for.
J. Edgar is infuriatingly coy and noncritical about its subject, an undeniable patriot but also an alarmist and a ruiner of lives.
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out
A non-controversial movie about a controversial figure.
Matt Pais - RedEye
May not be the sort of disingenuously heroic tale Hoover would've spun about himself, but it's too scattershot to feel entirely true -- or at least convincing.
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
Images of the living, yet decaying, body are what turn a cookie-cutter biopic into something far more personal.
Jaime N. Christley - Slant Magazine
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.
...screenwriter Black's idea of using the unreliable narrator for Hoover's history before long time companion Tolson outs him in the film's last act is a good one, but he cannot let go of the Lindbergh case...
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
By the end of the film, it's become a tragic love story about two men who like to wear heavy latex appliances and never touch each other.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
This is an awfully polite movie about a man who was anything but.
Joanna Langfield - The Movie Minute
Undermined by old-age makeup, a story largely unbothered by chronology, and no throughlines or uniting themes other than what the characters dutifully explain, it's a would-be prestige picture that's sorely lacking in emotional power.
Todd Gilchrist - The Playlist
Makes cases for and against Hoover, without really making us care either way...an interesting failure, a movie that tries to do too much and ends up not doing nearly enough.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings.
When I think of how brilliantly rendered some of Eastwood's"stuck men" have been, I am all the more frustrated.
David Poland - Movie City News
Represents a low point no Eastwood aficionado can ignore.
James Rocchi - Boxoffice Magazine
While the essence of J. Edgar remains ambivalent and inscrutable, Leonardo DiCaprio emerges as a definite Oscar contender.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Eastwood inspired by Citizen Kane? Part character study of an iconic figure, part chronicle of the FBI institution, J. Edgar is a sharply uneven, shapeless film that deserves to be seen for effort and ambition rather than execution.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Kate Erbland - Film School Rejects
As always, when Eastwood turns his compassionate eye onto the frailties and emotions of his characters, the film flies and reminds us why he remains one of the world's most vital filmmakers.
Mike Goodridge - Screen International