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About the Movie
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. 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.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 225
- Fresh: 96
- Rotten: 129
- Average Rating: 5.7/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: 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.
Rotten: Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty.
Fresh: An elegant film from a classy filmmaker that will satisfy a discerning, intelligent audience
Fresh: J. Edgar is earnestly watchable. But it makes no contribution to a better understanding of Hoover...
Not the Oscar movie I was hoping for, but still enjoyable.
Watching the trailer for "J. Edgar" gave me goose bumps. Every time I watched it, I was thinking to myself "Clint Eastwood AND Leonardo DiCaprio?! This is without a doubt an Oscar front-runner!" While I did find this film both compelling and entertaining, I was dissapointed that it wasn't the epic crime-drama that I though it would be.
The main reason that this film didn't work for me was the lack of focus in the story. The movie encompasses the life of J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most respected, yet hated men in American history. Clint Eastwood tells us this through a non-linear storyline, jumping back and forth from Edgar's first years in the F.B.I., to his prime years where he started making secret files on many political figures, to his final years where he's interviewed by other agents for his autobiography.
All aspects of this story are very interesting to watch, but just when you get focused on one story, the movie just flips to a different time-period, and you don't go to the previous story for a good 20 minutes. This really bothered me as far as emotional impact goes, because when the film ended, I knew that I was supposed to feel misty-eyed, but I wasn't; which is a sad thing, since nearly all of Eastwood's previous films left me in tears.
I know that I've talked a lot of bad about this movie, but believe me, there is a lot to like about this movie. Even when one of his movies isn't great, Leonardo DiCaprio always gives 110% in his roles, and this movie is no exception. He gives one of the most phenomanol performances of his acting career, and I do wish that he was nominated for Best Actor. The cinematoghraphy and art direction were also very masterful, along with Eastwood's score, which I wish was available for purchase.
So overall, this film had everything it needed to be a great film. If the editing had just been a little bit better, then it very well could have been. But still, there is enough that this film does right to have an enjoyable, intriging experience. Great performances, good direction, but it just needed more focus.
"When morals decline, and good men do nothing, evil flourishes. A society unwilling to learn from the past... is doomed. We must never forget our history, we must never lower our guard." - Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar
A GOOD MOVIE, BUT NOT AS GREAT AS IT COULD'VE BEEN
Judging by its trailer, "J. Edgar" seemed like it'd be a shoo-in to be one of the best films of the year. With Clint Eastwood directing, Leonardo DiCaprio leading an all-star cast, and an intriguing premise based on one of the most controversial and powerful figures in American history, it had all the makings of being a main frontrunner at the Oscars. Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly the case with this biopic. Now, don't get me wrong. It did have some great things to offer. The acting, for one, was undeniably well executed and more than convincing. DiCaprio, in particular, gives one of the best performances of his career as Hoover, the official leader of law enforcement in the United States for almost fifty years. The main problem I had with this movie was how its story was told. Eastwood's direction can get very confusing and difficult to follow at times, especially since the narrative jumps back and forth from one period in Edgar's life to another. For instance, you could be watching a young Hoover dealing with the murder case of the Lindbergh baby, and then the next minute, the story would immediately flash forward to a much older Hoover being interviewed for an autobiography. Because the film never consistently stays in one scene for no more than about fifteen to twenty minutes, it often feels very unbalanced and underdeveloped. If I were to nitpick a little more, I'd only say that the old-age makeup used on DiCaprio and Armie Hammer (Clyde Tolson) looked very cheesy and unrealistic and that the story itself left little to no significant emotional impact. But aside from those problems, I actually did find "J. Edgar" worth watching. Like I said earlier, this movie contains some really strong performances, not to mention one of DiCaprio's best roles in years. The sheer attitude and force he brings to his character make him all the more genuinely believable with every scene. All in all, though, the film could've been a whole lot better. If it had focused more on the quality of its storytelling and a little less on the development of its characters, it could've made for a truly enlivening experience. But as a whole, "J. Edgar" is still a generally informative and often rewarding flick, even if it does have its ups and downs.
Leonardo Dicaprio gave one of the best performances of his career he should have gotten an Oscar nomination.