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During his lifetime, J. Edgar Hoover would rise to be the most powerful man in America. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years, he would stop at nothing to protect his country. Through eight presidents and three wars, Hoover waged battle against threats both real and perceived, often bending the rules to keep his countrymen safe. His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted, if ever elusive, prize.
Drama - This is a slow, talky biopic that is a big showcase for star
Leonardo DiCaprio. Although about the FBI, action is at a
minimum. Older viewers are the target. Naomi Watts and other name
stars have smaller supporting parts. Violence, language, and gay
themes make the film inappropriate for children.
PROFANITY: 1 F-word; a couple of others. SEX/NUDITY: Sex noises; a kiss between men. VIOLENCE: Shootings and beatings with some blood. DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Some alcohol and tobacco. ACTION: Some gunplay. COMEDY: None
Berardinelli, Internet CriticFull Review Good What J. Edgar lacks is drive. It is at times too staid and straightforward. It skims along the surface rather than delving beneath the roiling waters of Hoover's personality to provide a more potent glimpse of the man. Hoover is as much an enigma at the end of the movie as he is at the beginning. In many ways, this is a text book account of his life in that it provides a competent biography without adding much in the way of color or passion.
Roger EbertFull Review Very Good As a period biopic, "J. Edgar" is masterful. Few films span seven decades this comfortably. The sets, the props, the clothes, and details, look effortlessly right, and note how Eastwood handles the many supporting roles (some of them depicting famous people). These minor characters are all to some degree relating to Hoover's formidable public image. It's a nice touch, the way Eastwood and DiCaprio create a character who seems to be a dead zone and make him electrifying in other actors' reaction shots.
USA TodayFull Review Good Consequently, audiences get a nuanced portrait. Eastwood certainly focuses on what Hoover is known best for — his wiretaps and secret files. Yet by seeing his interactions with those closest to him, audiences get a glimpse into Hoover's tortured psyche. What emerges is a portrait of a man often selfish and childish in his insistence on absolute loyalty, whose moral outrage was largely built on baseless fears.
Note: The rating
above is our interpretation of what the critic would give this movie based on
their review. We are not affiliated with these critic's in any way.
OPINION OVERVIEW The following is the original "What's Worth
Watching" write-up for this movie.
Based on a theater exit polling of 106 moviegoers:
TWENTYSOMETHINGS:Three of the four males loved "J.
Edgar." Three of the ladies enjoyed it very much with one loving it. The fourth one rated it average, which isn't too bad.
ADULTS: These are not real strong reviews but they clearly show that most everyone enjoyed "J. Edgar," at least to some degree. For this type of movie, I would say these are pretty good reviews. Close to half the males and females loved it. Quite a few more rated it above average (Very Good). Unfortunately, there were quite a few males and females who only rated it as "Good/Average," which is a bit disappointing but not too bad. A fair number of females even rated it below average or lower. After seeing this movie, my suggestion is, if you enjoy viewing biographies, you will very likely enjoy "J. Edgar."
Hoover was a man who placed great value on secrets—particularly those of others—and was not afraid to use that information to exert authority over the leading figures in the nation. Understanding that knowledge is power and fear poses opportunity, he used both to gain unprecedented influence and to build a reputation that was both formidable and untouchable. He was as guarded in his private life as he was in his public one, allowing only a small and protective inner circle into his confidence. His closest colleague, Clyde Tolson, was also his constant companion. His secretary, Helen Gandy, who was perhaps most privy to Hoover's designs, remained loyal to the end…and beyond. Only Hoover's mother, who served as his inspiration and his conscience, would leave him, her passing truly crushing to the son who forever sought her love and approval.