A detective teams up with a young cadet named Edgar Allen Poe to solve a series of murders in a wintery 1830.
Likely due to that whodunit storyline, not to mention one that happens to feature a young, fictionalized version of Edgar Allen Poe, many will have a predetermined idea of what The Pale Blue Eye is. Be ready to divorce all future assumptions when it comes to film after Scott Cooper’s unique new thriller starts to unravel.
Others familiar with Louis Barnard’s original novel will know they’re in for a riveting, twist-filled gothic mystery that stands far apart from most other murder mysteries Netflix will no doubt place on the shelf alongside it when it hits screens in January.
Cooper’s script ports us back to the 1830’s where, in West Point, in the early hours of a wintery morning, a young cadet is found dead. Soon after the body is relocated to the morgue, the young man’s heart is skilfully removed. Scared it’ll hurt the reputation of the struggling military academy, the owners hire a local detective, Augustus Landor (Christian Bale), to solve the murder -and ideally, quickly, and quietly. Frustrated that none of the other cadets will talk, Landor recruits a peculiar attending student, with a love of poetry and a dislike of how things are handled at the military, to help him nut out the culprit. The cadet’s name: Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling).
Divinely plotted, structured, and performed – with its typically brilliant lead almost near having his thunder stolen by the exceptional newcomer playing Poe – Cooper’s film has been packaged and delivered as well as a billionaire’s wine delivery.
While a slow build, and some might argue unsurprising to a point, the film loosens its magic tricks steadily… building up to a killer third act that showcases a harrowing, unique sequence of events that greatly improves every other moment in the film, while adding real depth to the compelling cast of characters caught up in its central mystery.
And while Bale and Melling are hard to take your eyes off, you can’t imagine their turns working as well without their incredible costume, hair & make-up.
An unpredictable, exceedingly suspenseful thriller that’ll send more shivers down your spine than an ice-pack on your back, The Pale Blue Eye is filmmaking at its finest.