J. Edgar

J. Edgar

As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover 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. 2.9 out of 5 based on 22 reviews
J. Edgar

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Drama
Director Clint Eastwood
Cast Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas Leonardo DiCaprio
Studio Warner Bros. UK
Release Date January 2012
Running Time
 

As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover 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.

Reviews

Total Film

Jamie Graham

Some will find it ponderous and pompous – it lacks the panache of Michael Mann’s epics, the momentum of Scorsese’s – but J. Edgar is a handsome, ambitious period drama full of modern-day parallels.

06/01/2012

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Time Out

Dave Calhoun

J Edgar is also smart enough to cast a shadow over hard facts. Versions of events remain versions, a viewpoint stressed by the framing device of Hoover narrating his unreliable memoirs to younger FBI agents. The film is more interested in offering a thoughtful character study than delivering hard-and-fast reconstructions.

17/01/2012

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The New York Times

Manohla Dargis

This latest jolt from Mr. Eastwood is a look back at a man divided and of the ties that bind private bodies with public politics and policies. With sympathy — for the individual, not his deeds — it portrays a 20th-century titan who, with secrets and bullets, a will to power and the self-promotional skills of a true star, built a citadel of information in which he burrowed deep.

08/11/2011

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Scotland on Sunday

Siobhan Synnot

Eastwood’s reluctance to wade into deep psychological waters also makes this film as closeted and unreliable as J Edgar himself.

15/01/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

The flashback-and-forth structure is quite an elegant one, but it eventually results in a film that's fragmentary, overlong and tricky to follow.

22/01/2012

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The New Statesman

Ryan Gilbey

J Edgar is a square meal, all meat and potatoes. Eastwood is good at those. The gravy, flavoursome and lubricating, comes from the script by Dustin Lance Black, the young writer of Milk. To gravy and milk add honey: Black must have reasoned that even DiCaprio's wounded quality would not make Hoover's bigotry palatable, so the man has been sweetened, his cruelty underplayed.

19/01/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

It doesn't ignore the man's vanity, vindictiveness and phobias. Nor does it skip over the crucial relationship with Clyde Tolson ... Indeed, the movie might well have been called "Eddie and Clyde" ... It does, however, miss out some important areas and is misleading on his alliance with Joe McCarthy. It's enjoyable, too evenly paced, and much inferior to Larry Cohen's 1977 The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover.

22/01/2012

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Screen

Mike Goodridge

Eastwood and his cinematographer Tom Stern decided to shoot in grim desaturated colours and make use of heavy shadows, which hardly helps a muddy narrative that takes a while to cohere.

04/11/2011

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The Sunday Times

Cosmo Landesman

The film assumes that because Hoover was at the centre of great historical events, and himself had as many dark secrets as lurked in his secret files on public figures, he must be a fascinating man. Yet Eastwood and Black can’t hide the fact that Hoover was essentially a dull, joyless, humourless and grey figure who lived for his work.

22/01/2012

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Variety

Peter Debruge

While not exactly coy, Eastwood's classically styled look at Hoover's life takes a long time to arrive at questions of the character's proclivities. When it does get there, however, this new dimension of the character so enlivens what has been a mostly dry portrayal of one man's crusade to reform law enforcement that it becomes the pic's focus.

03/11/2011

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Empire Magazine

Nick de Semylen

It’s a gutsy attempt to humanise the Vampire Of Pennsylvania Avenue, but might have been more satisfying as an HBO mini-series or a smaller, less sweeping tale.

16/01/2012

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The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

Earnestly watchable. But it makes no contribution to a better understanding of Hoover.

19/01/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

No attempt is made to explain why Hoover failed to tackle organised crime. The boss, running to fat, is twice assured that he's only carrying "solid weight", which fairly describes the film. It just squats there, heavy and implacable, filling the screen without convincing us it has any vital message to impart.

20/01/2012

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The Los Angeles Times

Kenneth Turan

We see the good things about Hoover, for instance his championing of scientific crime-scene analysis and the use of fingerprints, but we see much more of the dark pathological side, his mania for collecting incriminating evidence on people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., whom he considered the most dangerous man in America.

09/11/2011

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The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

Feels like a wasted opportunity. The most intriguing aspect of J. Edgar Hoover is hardly his sexuality or lack of it, but his argument that civil rights must come second to national security — a timely issue, but one the film seems reluctant to explore. Instead of dealing with that core element of his personality, the film turns into a bureaucratic version of Brokeback Mountain — which is not only speculative, but also not that interesting.

20/01/2012

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The New Yorker

David Denby

The movie is saved from the usual stiffness of the bio-pic form by the emotionally unsettled nature of its hero, a man vamped and dominated by his adoring mother, afraid of his own sexuality, yet desperate for companionship.

21/01/2012

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The Times

Kevin Maher

There should be a rule. One man covered in latex in a darkened room is tragedy. Two of them together is unintentional comedy.

20/01/2012

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Time Magazine

Richard Corliss

The film manages to be both sensational and stodgy, like a guided tour that goes on until it drones.

08/11/2011

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

There is a weird, muffled neutrality to all this, a lot of pulled punches and fudged issues, as if screenwriter and director have made an uneasy alliance to create a Hoover they admire from different angles: the fictional love child of Harvey Milk and Dirty Harry. And there's an infuriating final twist that sneakily preserves the movie's impartiality.

19/01/2012

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The Evening Standard

David Sexton

Soppy sexual politics have overridden real politics in J. Edgar. 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. Clint needs to stop now - and I need to watch him being violent and pitiless again in one of his great films.

20/01/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Robbie Collin

DiCaprio’s Hoover is almost completely implausible as a human being, let alone as a psychologically complex and compelling character. A key problem is the voice: ill-advisedly striving for accuracy over credibility, DiCaprio delivers his lines in an absurd drone that’s one part Charles Foster Kane to three parts Elmer Fudd.

20/01/2002

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The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness

Ghoulish prosthetics ... [make] J. Edgar seem like the world’s most boring zombie film. Not that the flashbacks showing his rise to notoriety are especially dynamic.

19/01/2012

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