Parents' Guide to

The Pale Blue Eye

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Gore and death in effective period detective story.

Movie R 2022 128 minutes
The Pale Blue Eye Movie: Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 15+

Finally a watchable American movie!

It has been ages since there's been an American movie worth watching for me and my family so this was just a treat!! Not only was the casting epic (love Christian Bale) all the other cast members were very good, the music, setting, directing and the story were all top notch. Content wise it's an Edger Allen Poe type dark drama/crime/thriller - so if you don't like that type of thing go watch Avengers I guess. Personally I love the snowy, grim, 1800s American setting and the story was great w/decent plot surprises. The only (very minor) parental guide things to note (outside occasional profanity) are 1) Towards the end of the movie there's ~7 seconds of a silhouetted/dark alley lead into a implied/pending rape scene (can't see anything, no nudity) and 2) Two scenes when main character lying in bed with "bar maid" friend implying adult activities - but they are only talking in these scenes (important plot related stuff) and no real nudity. I'm pretty strict w/this stuff but scenes are safe imo as long as your kids understand the evils of premarital relations/importance of marriage, etc. 3) A few seconds of blood/guts from the morgue/murder scenes Sure hope Hollywood gets the message that audiences want good movies and less propaganda/bs! Until they make another one or Oppenheimer comes out it's back to Korean/foreign films for me. I also see CommonSenseMedia flagged this movie for "Concern re: Diverse Representations" but obviously ignore that - this movie is great all around! 8/10 or 5 stars!
age 18+

All Kinds of Awful

This movie centers on everything our troubled world needs less of: murder, rape, evil rituals, revenge, and violence. While it did have the potential to be a thrilling "who done it?" type story, any bit of fun was lost when the story plunged far too dark. Let's put it this way: If you let your kids watch it, they will come crying to you about their movie-induced nightmares. If you let yourself watch it, you will go crying to your therapist about your movie-induced nightmares. Although I can give credit to the cast and crew for successfully creating a dark, moody atmosphere with the use of shadow, candlelight, snow, and the soundtrack, this just combined with the plot line to create a joyless, hope-devoid, desolate dystopia. You well definitely leave this movie feeling worse than you came. Now I could say more, but I need to call my therapist to help me recover from this scarring obscenity.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (1 ):

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.

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