Beautiful Blue Eyes Review

Growing up there were certain action star’s movies that my father would always take my family to see. Whether it was Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, or Roy Scheider, we always went to see their movies on opening weekend. Roy Scheider stars in one of my all-time favorite movies, Jaws, and I was pretty sad when I heard of his passing. Beautiful Blue Eyes is the last movie by Roy Scheider and while is it not the perfect send-off, we still get a glimpse of the prowess he maintained on the screen.

The movie starts in Nazi-occupied Poland where we see Joseph’s (Roy Scheider) character on the back of a truck with men, women, and children. At the same time as we see the truck, we are shown men digging a ditch on the side of the road. The film next cuts to Joseph playing cards with his non-Jewish friends and then going to his girlfriend’s house. The two sneak into the barn and there is a strange moment with a bee. Joseph is about to kill the bee when his girlfriend stops him and says “No! Just because you can you don’t have to.” As strange as this moment was, I felt that it would be revisited later in the movie.

Joseph and his girlfriend fall asleep in the barn and are awakened by gunshots. The SS is going door-to-door and are rounding up all the Jewish families. Joseph runs to his house and is captured along with his family and placed inside the truck we saw at the beginning of the movie.

A moment that bought confusion was when the title credits start and there are quick cuts of the names of the actors and a fast-paced song playing in the background. I was not sure if what I was going to see was an action movie or a drama. There are a lot of quick cuts throughout the movie that kind of take you away from the moment on screen. For example, there is a tender heart-to-heart between Joseph and his son Ronnie that is cut too quickly. We feel that we are going to see a special moment and then it cuts to the next scene.

Roy Scheider & Scott Cohen

The film moves forward to Joseph visiting his son, Ronnie, in Germany, and while going to his apartment is triggered by sounds that remind him of surviving being captured by the Nazis. We get a sense of how strong his PTSD is throughout the movie when backshots from cars or babies crying trigger a memory from Joseph’s younger days. When Joseph and his son finally meet, we are shown the tension between the two and see how strained their relationship is.

When walking out of the apartment one day, the two men run into Ronnie’s neighbor, Helmut Berger, who Joseph is convinced is the soldier that killed his family when he was a young boy. What follows is a series of doubts, suspicions, and investigations between Joseph and Ronnie as they try to prove the identity of the neighbor. Some of these moments do build some great suspense for the film and other moments fall flat.

The third act of the movie turns into a kidnapping caper. Joseph and Ronnie kidnap Berger’s character Shrager and drive him out to Joseph’s childhood home to kill him. Along the drive, Joseph explains to Ronnie what happened to him and his family. He tells the story of what happened to his baby sister by Shrager and why he wants to kill this man. Without giving too much away about the ending, the moment that we saw in the beginning with Joseph and the bee comes into play in a tense scene toward the ending of the movie.

While Joseph and Ronnie are away with Shrager, Ronnie’s wife, Anna, is uncovering a mystery at the apartment about who Shrager really is. She is confronted by Frau Ganz, another neighbor that is friends with Shrager. Frau mentions to Anna that she was told by Shrager that he had a brother that did terrible things during the occupation and he was ashamed of him. We learn more about the brother during the epilogue of the movie. Yes, this movie gives us text to read at the end to let us know what happened to the characters after the final scene.

Final Thoughts: Beautiful Blue Eyes is the last movie from the great Roy Scheider. The film at times feels choppy and jumps back and forth between the past and the present. While the story is one of revenge, there is a subplot regarding the father-son relationship between Roy and Scott Cohen. Scheider passed away during the making of this movie and it feels that there could have been much more to tell if he was still around. Although the movie is an interesting tale of revenge it falls a little short in building the suspense for the twist at the end.

Kid-Friendly: Beautiful Blue Eyes might be for children 14 and older who have been introduced to the Holocaust in school. Children younger than this might be bored by the slow pace of the movie. The movie does give the children a view into the PTSD of a survivor of the Nazi occupation.

Violence: There are some pretty intense scenes in this movie due to its subject matter. We see images of Nazi soldiers shooting families. While not all of the killings are on film, there are images that infer what has happened. We do see a scene involving Joseph fighting a Nazi soldier that involves a knife that might be a bit too much for some.

Set in Germany with flashbacks to Nazi-occupied Poland, the film is the story of Joseph (Scheider), a retired NYPD cop who visits his estranged son Ronnie (Cohen) in Nuremberg and insists that his neighbor is the SS Commander (Berger), who slaughtered his entire family in a Polish forest in 1941. In flashbacks, young Joseph (Newton), who has a romance with a young woman (Bolger), escapes the Nazis and joins Resistance fighters in the Polish forests. The older Joseph enlists the help of Ronnie to kidnap Schrager.

Written and directed by Joshua Newton (“Iron Cross”), the film also stars Helmut Berger (“The Godfather: Part III”), Scott Cohen (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Sarah Bolger (“The Tudors”), and Alexander Newton (“Iron Cross”) who plays a young Roy Scheider.

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