Why is The Pale Blue Eye Rated R?

By Miguel Fernández
Published: January 3, 2023 (Last updated: December 31, 2023)

Why is The Pale Blue Eye Rated R? We discuss the anticipated Netflix movie and the reasons behind its rating. 

Scott Cooper is reuniting with his Hostiles star Christian Bale to bring Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel of the same name to life. The Pale Blue Eye will arrive on Netflix on January 6. Its cast includes Bale, Harry Melling (who people might recognize as Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter films), Lucy Boynton, Toby Jones, and a surprising cameo by Robert Duvall. Our review called it “a breathtaking-looking gothic picture that’s uneven because of how horrendously overacted the entire experience can be.”

The film has been rated R by the MPA — let’s explore why.

What is the movie The Pale Blue Eye about?

The Pale Blue Eye follows detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) in 1830 as he is contacted by the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, to investigate the recent, disturbing murder of one of their cadets. The night before, one of them was hanged, and later, his heart was cut out of his chest.

During his investigation, Landor is assisted by another young cadet at the Academy, one that goes by the name of Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). The film, much like the novel before it, is not based on real events, though Poe was a member of the Academy at West Point for a small part of his life. It is a fictionalization of Poe’s life, à la Shakespeare in Love.

More murders will soon be committed, and Landor and Poe will have to work closely together to get to the bottom of what’s happening. The Pale Blue Eye has very little in common in tone and setting with Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion, another recent entry in the whodunnit genre, and reviews have been pretty mixed all around. This time around, though, we do get to spend some time with our lead detective, and we explore his character in quite a deep way.

Why is The Pale Blue Eye Rated R?

The film has been rated R by the MPA “for some violent content and bloody images.” As previously teased, the film deals with murders and stripped organs, and has some pretty graphic images, especially at the beginning and toward the very end.

Where can I watch The Pale Blue Eye?

Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eye started a two-week limited theatrical run in a few countries across the globe on December 23, 2022, and will be available to stream on Netflix on January 6, 2023. It will then join other recent murder mysteries on the platform like Glass Onion, though the modern setting of this movie will then be thrown back 200 years, and the blue from the Greek islands will be replaced by snowy West Point, New York. Benoit Blanc’s wit will also morph into a more serene and introspective detective in Augustus Landor.

It’s also not the first R-rated film to hit Netflix as of late. Noah Baumbach’s White Noise also received the same rating by the MPA, a decision that has raised quite a few eyebrows. The Pale Blue Eye is definitely more graphic than Baumbach’s absurdist comedy, and one can easily understand why it’s not suitable for children, even if some minor touches would have degraded it to a PG-13 film.

Are you looking forward to The Pale Blue Eye? Let us know in the comments below!

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