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, 2012-01-17
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, 2011-11-10
Within the sprawling biopic that is J. Edgar beats the heart of a love story.
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
[DiCaprio] digs into the role of Hoover with relish and commitment
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-09
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, 2013-06-20
Somehow J. Edgar manages to be both epic and empty.
Tom Long, Detroit News, 2011-11-11
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, 2011-11-11
Although Hoover's luster faded as his career went on, Eastwood's movie seems wan from the start.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger, 2011-11-11
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, 2011-11-11
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, 2011-11-10
For all its virtues -- or, perhaps, because of them -- J. Edgar is a disappointment.
Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-10
"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, 2011-11-10
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, 2011-11-09