Beautiful Blue Eyes
The last film starring actor Roy Scheider, Beautiful Blue Eyes features the veteran actor as Joseph (with Alexander Newton playing Joseph in flashbacks), a retired cop and Holocaust survivor who travels to Nuremberg to visit his estranged son Ronnie (Scott Cohen). Joseph soon meets Ronnie’s elderly neighbour, Schrager (Helmut Berger), and is convinced that he is the Nazi who slaughtered his family during World War II. Joseph enlists Ronnie to help him in a mission of vengeance, but his son is hesitant to help after years of neglect, and the protagonist must repair the emotional rifts he inadvertently created to avenge his family.
Beautiful Blue Eyes has a straightforward premise, but its structure is highly unusual in ways that interfere with the effectiveness of its storytelling. The movie juggles many plot points – in addition to Joseph’s experiences in the war, there’s his relationship with Ronnie and his attitude toward Ronnie’s wife, Anna (Calita Rainford), as well as Schrager’s relationships with Ronnie and their mutual neighbour, Frau Ganz (Anna Polony) – but these are all either outright dropped or concluded before they can be fully explored. This creates an unusually hollow feeling, and the film comes very close to telling a story but never actually commits one way or another.
There are attempts to create tension through Joseph and Ronnie working together to investigate Schrager, then working out a plan to enact Joseph’s revenge, but there’s very little friction in anything that happens. A thriller movie without any thrills is very hard to stay invested in, and while the narrative tries to complicate matters with a few last-minute plot twists, even those are too boneless and inconsequential to make an audience feel much of anything. The acting is solid across the board and the cinematography is decent, but even that can’t help to put narrative meat on the piece’s bare structural bones.
Overall, Beautiful Blue Eyes is a feature that had a lot of potential to be engaging and thought-provoking, but largely squandered that potential, resulting in an unsatisfying and peculiarly empty cinematic experience. It’s a real shame because there are some very interesting mediations at the heart of the film, but it is let down by writing that never puts in the work to bring those ideas to the forefront. It’s Roy Scheider’s final turn, but that’s all it has to hang its hat on.
Beautiful Blue Eyes is released in cinemas on 9th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Beautiful Blue Eyes here: