The Pale Blue Eye Parent Guide
This moody, atmospheric period detective story tells a polished tale. Unfortunately, it does so with lots and lots of violence.
Parent Movie Review
The Pale Blue Eye is a moody, atmospheric murder mystery set in the year 1830 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. When a cadet is found dead, experienced detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is called in to solve the mystery. He seeks assistance and winds up working with another cadet, none other than young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling).
Cadet Leroy Fry (Matt Heim) has been hanged, but an examination of his body by Landor and Dr. Daniel Marquis (Toby Jones) very soon reveals that Fry’s body has been mutilated. Questions about who would commit this heinous crime and why, lead Landor and Poe to view many of Poe’s fellow cadets with suspicion. Poe is well positioned as a cadet to find inside information which he regularly reports to Landor. It is satisfying to see Poe and Landor, both very lonely men, develop a real friendship and trust as they work to solve the case.
The discovery of the bodies of a sheep and a cow, mutilated in the same way as Fry’s body, keep tensions high as it is assumed that the murderer must still be very close.
Landor and Poe are both burdened by their own bereavements, deepening the dark emotions in the story. Landor is haunted by the memory of his late, beautiful wife and by the disappearance of his daughter. Poe claims to be visited by his dead mother’s spirit and he insists she speaks to him. These losses bring an otherworldly air to both men’s personalities and strengthen their friendship.
Director Scott Cooper (who also wrote the screenplay from Louis Bayard’s novel) deserves credit for maintaining tension throughout the film while also avoiding static emotions. The murder of Cadet Randolph Ballinger (Fred Hechinger) pulls the threads of tension and dread even tighter over the Academy – and the audience. Cooper lightens the tone with a charming relationship between Poe and the doctor’s daughter, Lea (Lucy Boynton). Poe’s attraction to the ailing young woman, which is only intensified when she has seizures, foreshadows some of his later literary output.
The Pale Blue Eye is set in winter, which adds to the bleak, foreboding feel of the film. It is a well-told tale with great acting, sets, production value, and a huge but justifiable plot twist at the end. It definitely unsuited for underage viewers, as it is full of violence, including murder, mutilation, and sexual assault. Add this one to your “to watch” list if you love moody thrillers - but wait until the kids are in bed to indulge.Directed by Scott Cooper. Starring Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Gillian Anderson. Running time: 128 minutes. Theatrical release January 6, 2023. Updated January 27, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Pale Blue Eye
The Pale Blue Eye
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Pale Blue Eye rated R? The Pale Blue Eye is rated R by the MPAA for some violent content and bloody images.
Violence:There are scenes of physical conflict, some involving weapons and with some blood. Mutilated corpses are seen after gory murders. Animal carcasses are seen in an occult context with some bloody detail. There is a brief depiction of suicide without detail. Characters suffer accidental death and injury.A sexual assault is depicted without nudity. Sexual assault is also referred to.
Sexual Content: A sexual assault is depicted without nudity. Rape is also mentioned.
Profanity:There are six uses of profanity, including two sexual expletives.
Drug and Alcohol Use: Adults drink alcohol in a social context on a fairly regular basis.
Page last updated January 27, 2023
Related home video titles:
For another bleak, atmospheric production, you can try watching The Wonder. Set in post-famine Ireland, this is the story of an English nurse sent to watch over a teenage girl who refuses to eat but remains mysteriously healthy.
For more gothic atmosphere, you can try Rebecca. This mystery wrapped in a love story is consumed with foreboding and dread.
For an atmospheric murder mystery that is more teen-friendly, you can try Kenneth Branagh’s version of Death on the Nile. He has also adapted another of Agatha Christie’s whodunits for film: Murder on the Orient Express.