Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio
Judi Dench
Josh Lucas
Armie Hammer
Ed Westwick
Damon Herriman.
Directors
Clint Eastwood.
Screenwriters
Dustin Lance Black.
Running Time
136 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Keeper Of Lost Causes, The
3 Star Empire Rating
If I Stay
2 Star Empire Rating
Let's Be Cops
3 Star Empire Rating
Obvious Child
4 Star Empire Rating
Million Dollar Arm
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating

J. Edgar
Hoover damned


submit to reddit


Plot
As he works on his memoirs at FBI headquarters, an aged J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio) explains how he went from fiercely ambitious law student to all-powerful Bureau boss. But can the G-man’s tales be trusted?


Review
J. Edgar
Browse more images »
American legends don't come much more slippery than J. Edgar Hoover, the intelligence ogre who obsessively surveilled his nation’s most powerful citizens (both guilty and innocent) from his Washington fortress, but whose own private life remains a secret. Clint Eastwood’s making-of-a-monster epic strains to puzzle out how Hoover came to be, but ultimately doesn’t do justice to its complex subject.

The tricksy plot structure sees Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) dictating his life story to a series of young agent-stenographers (naturally, it turns out that not every word is accurate). Accordingly, the film flashes back to 1919, when the Palmer Raids were giving the 24 year-old Edgar a taste for harassing undesirables; returns to the typewriter; spins back to the Lindbergh-baby kidnapping case; forward again for some Kennedy-era wire-tapping, and so on. By the end it gets quite exhausting, for a movie about a man who spends most of his time behind a desk.

For Eastwood and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Hoover’s sexuality is key. Throughout his life, the film speculates, he had feelings for his handsome colleague, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) — and presumably other men — that he never dared act on. In one chilling, stand-out scene, Edgar tries to explain to his mother (Judi Dench, wonderfully sour) that he feels no sexual attraction to women. Mrs. Hoover responds by telling of a sensitive boy, nicknamed ‘Daffodil’, who killed himself after being outed as a homosexual. “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil,” she sniffs with pursed lips. “Yes, mother,” he replies.

DiCaprio is a fairly bizarre pick as Hoover — he looked more like James Gandolfini or Bob Hoskins, and the Inception star isn’t the first person you’d think of when casting a celibate, fussy mummy’s boy. But he turns out to be more convincing than he was as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, summoning up a ferocity behind prosthetic jowls that’s credible enough to invite Oscar talk. He’s even good enough to stop one inspecting his dubious make-up too closely, though Hammer is more hamstrung by his, resembling a liver- spotted waxwork of Robert Duvall.

Strong as both actors are, neither is able to make much of an impact in a film that rushes through seven decades of US history (Naomi Watts fares even worse as Hoover’s secretary, whose reasons for staying at his side remain unclear). 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.


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


Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for J. Edgar
Empire Star Rating

RE: J.Edgar

I didn't expect this kind of movie from Clint Eastwood ....... the movie was really so slow ....... J.Edgar is full of lies .... ... More

Posted by johnnyfirday at 07:59, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: J.Edgar

This film is, by and large, saved from mediocrity from the performances of Di Caprio, Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts. The sequence-editing between the young J.Edgar and the old J.Edgar lacked any form of smooth progression and in the end became extremely clunky and abit of annoyance. Story wise I felt wanting more.Yes we get his strong relationship situation with his Mother (played by Judi 'boring' Dench),Clyde Tolson and his extreme dedication to the Bureaus progression,but other than ... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 15:06, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


J.Edgar

The powerful performance of DiCaprio almost manages to save J.Edgar from its slow and discouraging narrative and poor relevance to the time period. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 23:02, 09 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: J. Edgar

Seen it,loved it. A bit vain like the man himself. 4 stars. ... More

Posted by theEqualiser at 12:30, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: J. Edgar

multiple post sorry! ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 22:02, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: J. Edgar

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. As he dictates his memoirs to his biographer Agent Smith, we move back and forth through Hoover's long career, a career which spans gangsters, two world wars, a presidential assassination, the civil rights movements and other important events which helped shape the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 22:01, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


J. Edgar

multiple post ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:55, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Gamescom 2014: The 10 Most Exciting Games
Zombies! Guns! Tombs! Sheep! Watch the trailers right here...

Who Is Mack Bolan? Your Guide To Cinema's New Action Man
As Bradley Cooper lines up to star as the hero, here's your handy guide to his story so far

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)