Based on the 2003 novel by Louis Bayard, The Pale Blue Eye is a gothic mystery thriller written and directed by Scott Cooper.
With a terrific ensemble cast including Christian Bale and Harry Melling, the film was first released in select cinemas in December 2022 before getting a release date of January 6th 2023 on Netflix.
What Is The Pale Blue Eye About?
The plot of the movie is simple. It is 1830 West Point, New York, and somebody discovers a young cadet's body swinging from a tree.
When the case becomes more than a suicide, the military request that retired detective Augustus Landor (Bale) investigate the hanging at the West Point Academy.
With his reputation preceding him, the detective looks for those responsible. He quickly identifies Edgar A. Poe (Harry Melling) as a fellow cadet who may be able to help him solve the murder.
However, as the bodies start to pile up, Landor will have to look at those closest to the crime to determine who the culprit is. Any more importantly, why they've done it.
In the mix is the family of Dr. Daniel Marquis (Toby Jones), including his son Artemus (Harry Lawtey), his daughter Lea (Lucy Boynton), and his wife (Gillian Anderson).
But is it really that straightforward? Or is there more to the investigation than meets the pale blue eye?
The Pale Blue Eye Official Trailer
Is The Pale Blue Eye Worth Watching?
Having never read the book and with limited knowledge of Edgar Allen Poe, I quite enjoyed The Pale Blue Eye. However, it has to be said that those who are more well-versed in Poe have been critical.
But if you take it as it is, The Pale Blue Eye is a solid mystery thriller that is elevated by stellar performances from Bale and Melling.
In terms of the story and style, there is a satanic ritual element that comes a bit out of left field. It was out of sync with how the film was progressing and took the whole plot in an unusual direction that didn't really add anything in terms of context.
Stylistically, The Pale Blue Eye is stunning to look at. The scenery and setting are simply gorgeous and a huge juxtaposition to the gruesomeness of the murders that are being committed.
If I had one criticism, and it's only a little one, the movie is set in New York in 1830, and yet far too many of the characters have English accents, or at least slip in and out of them while pretending to be American. It's slightly annoying.
That said, it isn't enough to ruin what is otherwise a decent, well-cast mystery that was engrossing from beginning to end.
Is The Pale Blue Eye Based On A True Story?
The movie is based on the 2003 novel by Louis Bayard, and yes, Edgar Allan Poe was an Officer Cadet at West Point Academy, but most will agree that this particular story is fiction.
In fact, Poe was discharged on April 15, 1829, so he wouldn't even have been at West Point in the year the movie is set in.
Cast And Characters
Christian Bale as Augustus Landor, a veteran widowed detective
Harry Melling as Cadet Edgar Allan Poe
Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Julia Marquis, the Doctor's wife
Lucy Boynton as Lea Marquis, the doctor's daughter
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Patsy, Landor's love interest
Toby Jones (The Wonder) as Dr. Daniel Marquis
Harry Lawtey as Cadet Artemus Marquis, the doctor's son
Simon McBurney as Captain Hitchcock
Hadley Robinson as Mattie, Landor's daughter
Timothy Spall as Superintendent Thayer
Robert Duvall as Jean Pepe
Charlie Tahan as Cadet Loughborough