A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Overall, not much positivity in this story. Main thrust is revenge, specifically revenge against sexual violence. Also some anti-military commentary -- i.e., the argument that service takes away a person's humanity.
Positive Role Models
For various reasons, Landor can't be considered a role model. Poe is a free-thinker who's intelligent and talented, and he seems excited to be able to use his talents to get to solve the murders. But he does lie in some sequences to get information he needs.
Set at West Point in 1830, a time when the school was segregated and only White cadets were allowed to attend, so White men have all the power here. Of three major female characters, one is a wife, one is a barmaid/love interest, and one is a conventionally attractive "wild card." None of the three has much agency, if any.
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Violence & Scariness
A woman is assaulted by three men; rape is mentioned. A character dies by suicide (jumps from high cliff). Characters are killed, beaten, bloodied. Bleeding wrists, blood dripping into bowl, blood spread on floor. Bloody face. Human heart used in ritual. Gory corpse. Dead bodies hanging from tree. Building on fire, collapsing beams landing on characters. Snapping corpse's fingers. Dead sheep hung from tree; some blood seen. One character attacks another; struggling, fighting, threatening with rock. Fighting, punching. Threatening with knife. Violent dialogue, describing hearts carved from cadavers, animals carved up, castration, etc. A person has a seizure. Brief bullying. Visit from a ghost.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two characters shown lying in bed together, comfortable and intimate. A character recites a lewd, sex-related poem.
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Two uses of "f--k." Exclamatory use of "Christ almighty" and "my God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent scenes of drinking beers in pubs. Additional social drinking, characters doing shots of liquor, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Pale Blue Eye is a moody murder mystery set in 1830 at the West Point Military Academy. Based on the novel by Louis Bayard, it teams fictional detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) with future author Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). Violence includes a woman being assaulted by three men; rape is mentioned. Expect gory images with blood, dead bodies, death by suicide, fighting, beating, punching, threatening with weapons, a human heart, dead animals, fire, and violent dialogue. A couple is seen lying in bed together in an intimate way, and there's a lewd sex-related poem. Language includes two uses of "f--k," a use of "Christ almighty," and a use of "my God." Characters drink socially throughout, mostly beer and in pubs, as well as some shots of liquor. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This period mystery has a few flaws in its logic, but its stellar cast, some good twists, and a crisp, wintry atmosphere add up to a sturdy, bleak film that should pair well with a hot mug of cocoa. Based on a novel by Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye isn't exactly the kind of mystery that viewers will be able to solve; it's not clue-oriented like Death on the Nile or Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And it has one major element that doesn't exactly make sense (which can't be explained without giving too much away). But, nevertheless, thanks to unfussy direction by filmmaker Scott Cooper, it's satisfying to watch all of the pieces click together, especially in locations like a creepy icehouse and a tavern lit by flickering candles stuck to tables by mounds of wax.
The casting of Melling (Harry Potter's Dudley Dursley) as Poe is inspired, and he's quite a character, a cunning and loquacious Southern gentleman who's the perfect complement to Bale's serious, dispirited detective. Gillian Anderson gets some laughs as the slightly improper wife of the school's doctor (Toby Jones), and Robert Duvall has a couple of potent scenes as a scholar of the occult, surrounded by shelves full of ancient tomes. Timothy Spall and Simon McBurney play stern officers at the academy, Charlotte Gainsbourg is Landor's part-time lover, and Lucy Boynton is the sister of one cadet who catches Poe's eye. The cast strikes sparks off of one another, ensuring that, in The Pale Blue Eye, there's always something interesting to see.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.