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J. Edgar (15)

Biography, Drama

As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 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.

The critical consensus

In the end, J Edgar hedges its bets with a specious final twist that suggests Hoover's biggest sin is that he was economical with the truth when it came to telling his own story. Future cultural historians may be saying the same thing about J Edgar itself.

**(*)(*)(*)Andrew Pulver, The Guardian, 30/11/2011

This subject matter is handled sensitively, and the film is well acted (especially by Leonardo DiCaprio) but overall feels unfocused and lacking the type of authority that made Hoover himself such a formidable figure in American history.

**(*)(*)(*)Roberto Carnevale, The List, 05/01/2012

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.

****(*)Jamie Graham, Total Film, 06/01/2012

Brokeback Bureau? Alas, more like J Edgar Snoozer.

***(*)(*)Siobhan Synnot, The Scotsman, 15/01/2012

Sadly, such half-assed makeup work epitomises the slapdash nature of this dreary, shallow film.

**(*)(*)(*)Philip Concannon, The Skinny, 16/01/2012

A well acted but unfocused study of one of the 20th century’s most colourful characters.

***(*)(*)Nick de Semlyen, Empire Online, 16/01/2012

This is finely crafted, grown-up filmmaking, well acted by DiCaprio, and with a number of gripping sub-plots.

***(*)(*)Henry Fitzherbert, Daily Express, 18/01/2012

At times it’s like watching a dull slideshow for an audiobook.

**(*)(*)(*)Alistair Harkness, The Scotsman, 19/01/2012

Eastwood's film might want for pep, but his leading man is the very picture of coiled power and simmering fury.

***(*)(*)Alison Rowat, The Herald, 19/01/2012

There are interesting moments and interesting scenes here – but this J Edgar becomes a sonorous, History Channel drone.

**(*)(*)(*)Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 19/01/2012

Won't Hoover up awards.

***(*)(*)Chris Tookey, Daily Mail, 20/01/2012

J. Edgar feels too guarded and selective.

Anthony Quinn, The Independent, 20/01/2012

J. Edgar is a solid consideration of an extraordinary life driven by a bravura performance from DiCaprio.

****(*)Allan Hunter, Daily Express, 20/01/2012

It’s hard to believe it was written by the man who gave us Milk. As it stands, this is one for historians. And insomniacs.

Daily Record, 20/01/2012

Eastwood has produced an absorbing portrayal of a lawman who was fascinating and whose fingerprints can still be seen all over American politics and society.

****(*)Neil, TV Bomb, 18/01/2012

This is an unwieldy yet grown-up film, with some fine performances, but the riddle of Hoover has almost proved too much for it.

***(*)(*)Jenny McCartney, Seven Magazine, 20/01/2012

Eastwood’s film says more about its director than its subject, and sadly, what it says isn’t flattering.

**(*)(*)(*)Robbie Collin, The Telegraph, 20/01/2012

This muddled melodrama adds up to a missed opportunity.

**(*)(*)(*)Dan Stewart, Little White Lies, 20/01/2012

It's enjoyable, too evenly paced, and much inferior to Larry Cohen's 1977 The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover.

Philip French, The Observer, 22/01/2012

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.

Nicholas Barber, 22/01/2012

This ought to have been an absorbing, prestige production. But hampered by a dreary and unfeasibly sentimental script and dull direction, the result is turgid.

Sunday Herald, 22/01/2012

A film of great achievement complimented by a J.S. Bach influenced music score from Eastwood.

John Kennedy, The Edinburgh Reporter, 22/01/2012

Features about J. Edgar (15)

J Edgar Hoover and me: how I was spied on by the FBI

Clancy Sigal, The Guardian, 02/12/2011

The secret life of J Edgar Hoover

Anthony Summers, 01/01/2012

J Edgar is a woefully boring movie

John Patterson, The Guardian, 14/01/2012

In defence of J Edgar Hoover

John Preston, The Telegraph, 21/01/2012

J. Edgar (15)

Where and when?

General release. Check local listings for show times.

Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee from Friday February 17, 2012, until Thursday February 23, 2012. More info:

macrobert, Stirling from Saturday February 25, 2012, until Wednesday February 29, 2012. More info:

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