The Hollywood Reporter

By Todd McCarthy
This surprising collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tackles its trickiest challenges with plausibility and good sense, while serving up a simmeringly caustic view of its controversial subject's behavior, public and private.
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Rolling Stone

By Peter Travers
Even when the film trips on its tall ambitions, you can't shake it off.
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Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
DiCaprio does more than disappear behind steely glasses and prosthetic old-age makeup. He transforms himself, in a feat of acting, from the inside out.
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USA Today

By Claudia Puig
J. Edgar shines a probing beam of light on a man who was widely feared, often disliked, but rarely understood.
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Philadelphia Inquirer

By Steven Rea
Most disappointing, Eastwood's decades-spanning portrait reveals little about the man himself.
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Boston Globe

By Ty Burr
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. Somewhere in this ambitious, meticulously produced epic is a small love story struggling to get out.
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New York Daily News

By Joe Neumaier
At least Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific.
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By Stephanie Zacharek
As Lily Tomlin's Ernestine once said, "There's nothing like a Hoover when you're dealing with dirt." Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar could use more dirt: This is a sensitive, sympathetic portrait of a scummy little man.
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San Francisco Chronicle

By Mick LaSalle
It's watchable and reasonably entertaining, to be sure. Eastwood doesn't make movies that are hard to sit through. But something in the film's point of view is off, not at cross-purposes, not contradictory, but incomplete, irrelevant and ever-so-faintly ridiculous.
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Wall Street Journal

By Joe Morgenstern
J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, is at war with itself, and everyone loses...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.
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59 out of 100
Mixed or average reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.