J. Edgar 2011

Critics score:
43 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: 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. Read more

Mark Rabinowitz, CNN.com: It is, quite simply, a poorly conceived and constructed film. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: The film manages to be both sensational and stodgy, like a guided tour that goes on until it drones. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: 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. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: "J. Edgar" too often feels like the rough draft of the great movie it could have been; a character sketch, not quite a portrait. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Too ambiguous, too gentle and too noncommittal to get the job done. Read more

Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies: 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. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: J. Edgar is infuriatingly coy and noncritical about its subject, an undeniable patriot but also an alarmist and a ruiner of lives. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: 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. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: 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. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: 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. Read more

Tasha Robinson, AV Club: 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. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: It is flawed but ultimately captivating. Read more

Jake Coyle, Associated Press: 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. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: [DiCaprio] digs into the role of Hoover with relish and commitment Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: 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. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: 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. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: Within the sprawling biopic that is J. Edgar beats the heart of a love story. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: 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. Read more

Eric D. Snider, Film.com: Here's that J. Edgar Hoover biopic you asked for, or at least something that meets all the technical requirements to be considered one. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: 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. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "J. Edgar" is a somber, enigmatic, darkly fascinating tale, and how could it be otherwise? Read more

Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News: For all its virtues -- or, perhaps, because of them -- J. Edgar is a disappointment. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: 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. Read more

David Thomson, The New Republic: 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. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: 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. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Although Hoover's luster faded as his career went on, Eastwood's movie seems wan from the start. Read more

Ella Taylor, NPR: Fatally cautious. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: 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. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: 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. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: J. Edgar is an arduous trek through the history books, a gloomy glide down the marble halls of a Washington institution. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: 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. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: J.Edgar is one of the best films of 2011. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: As a period biopic, "J. Edgar" is masterful. Few films span seven decades this comfortably. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: 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. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com: 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... Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Whether unintentionally or by design, the movie never really makes a case either for or against the troubled figure at its center. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: 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. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 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. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: Usually the tautest of directors, Clint Eastwood has gone all slack here, allowing his subject to get completely away from him. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: A pleasing, intelligent film happy to describe Hoover's behaviour as monstrous but too balanced and searching to damn him as a monster. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: DiCaprio wrings truth out of a cipher. The Hoover of both headline and whispers comes into sharp relief in this Oscar-beckoning performance. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: 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. Read more

Peter Debruge, Variety: 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. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: 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. Read more