J Edgar

  • 15
  • Clint Eastwood (2011)
  • US
  • 131 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Unrecognisable beneath his make-up, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a towering performance here as the man who headed the FBI for nearly 40 years. While presidents came and went, J Edgar Hoover maintained and expanded what became his fiefdom. He presented himself as a ruthless crusader against crime, a man above politics, but he was a hate figure to the left and remains controversial in America to this day. But director Clint Eastwood and DiCaprio present him very much as a mummy's boy (with Judi Dench oddly miscast as the mother). His sexuality and an apparent liking for women's clothing have been the subject of much speculation (and ridicule), and Eastwood rather deftly suggests a man who is both naive and repressed, while making it clear that what really drove him was his work - and his ego. That work was the domestic history of the United States in the making. Where the film falls down is in its rather sketchy presentation of that history, its events and characters - it rather assumes contemporary audiences will be familiar with the Lindbergh kidnapping and its impact. Eastwood's film is an excellent portrait of Hoover the man, but is less successful as a portrait of his times.

Plot Summary

FBI founder J Edgar Hoover dictates his memoirs to a young agent. He looks back on his 50-year career as one of America's most powerful and controversial public figures, from his persecution of radical movements he saw as a threat to the nation, his role in several high-profile criminal cases and the influence he wielded over political leaders. Clint Eastwood's biopic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer.

Cast and crew


J Edgar Hoover
Leonardo DiCaprio
Helen Gandy
Naomi Watts
Charles Lindbergh
Josh Lucas
Annie Hoover
Judi Dench
Clyde Tolson
Armie Hammer
Agent Smith
Ed Westwick
Bruno Hauptmann
Damon Herriman
Arthur Koehler
Stephen Root
Robert F Kennedy
Jeffrey Donovan
Harlan Fiske Stone
Ken Howard
Dwight Eisenhower
Gunner Wright
Lela Rogers
Lea Thompson
Colonel Schwarzkopf
Dermot Mulroney
Richard Nixon
Christopher Shyer
Mitchell Palmer
Geoff Pierson
John Condon
Zach Grenier
Albert Osborne
Denis O'Hare


Clint Eastwood

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Warner Bros
Contains violence and swearing.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 20 Jan 2012
Certificate 15