J. Edgar

Watch J. Edgar

  • R
  • 2011
  • 2 hr 16 min
  • 6.5  (131,752)
  • 59

J. Edgar is a 2011 biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, the founder and longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The movie looks at Hoover's life and career, spanning from the early years of his career in the Bureau of Investigation through his rise to become one of the most powerful men in America. The film explores Hoover's relationships, including those with his mother, his lifelong friend and associate Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), and his secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts).

The movie begins with an older Hoover dictating his memoirs to a series of agents, explaining how his obsession with order and security began in his childhood with his fear of his father's instability. Hoover rises through the ranks of government after schooling, and with a view to protect America and American citizens, he creates the FBI. We see that although Hoover is revered by many for his accomplishments, he is also feared and whispered about behind closed doors. The film explores Hoover's conflicted relationships with both Tolson and Gandy, showing the deep bonds he shared with each of them. It also delves into the secrets he kept, as well as some of his more unsavory tactics, such as wiretapping and blackmail, which he used to keep those in power in line.

The movie provides a lens into Hoover's sometimes-controversial legacy, including his handling of civil rights movements, organized crime, and the Red Scare. The movie portrays Hoover as a man ill-equipped to handle the social changes he was unable to fully comprehend, yet fiercely devoted to his country and its safety — even if his methods often strayed beyond legal bounds. J. Edgar puts forth Hoover's view of the truth in a way that allows the audience to understand and appreciate the complexity of the FBI Director, and the unprecedented power he wielded over the course of his decades-long career.

The film is narrated by Hoover himself, with flashbacks to pivotal moments in his life interspersed with the present-day narrative. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a powerful performance as Hoover, capturing the character's intense drive for order and security, as well as his fears and vulnerabilities. Armie Hammer shines in his role as the always-present Clyve Tolson, providing warmth and comfort to the often distant and difficult Hoover. Naomi Watts is similarly impressive as Helen Gandy, becoming an indispensable confidant to Hoover over the years.

Overall, J. Edgar is a thought-provoking and beautifully shot biopic about a man who was both a hero and a villain, a patriot and a tyrant. The movie is highlighted by strong performances, gripping storytelling, and director Clint Eastwood's deft touch at balancing the film's many themes, which feel just as relevant today as they did when Hoover was alive. Like its subject, the movie is flawed yet fascinating, a fitting tribute to a man who shaped American history — and whose legacy continues to reverberate today.

J. Edgar is a 2011 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 16 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5 and a MetaScore of 59.

J. Edgar
Where to Watch J. Edgar
J. Edgar is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent J. Edgar for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 16 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (131,752)
  • Metascore