The Pale Blue Eye – Film Review

Director: Scott Cooper

Writer: Scott Cooper

Starring: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall

Scott Cooper’s adaptation of Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel The Pale Blue Eye has been released on Netflix after a very limited cinema release late last year. Featuring a stellar cast the film is a murder mystery set in during the 1830s in an American Military Academy. While the film is fiction it also features a the writer Edgar Allen Poe as a main character, who did actually spend some time in the military when he was quite young, lying about his age in order to serve.

The film revolves around a murder mystery, where a cadet at a military academy is found dead by an apparent suicide, and then after his body is discovered, someone carves out his heart. To investigate the strange death, detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is brought to the academy. He enlists another cadet, Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling), to help with the investigation and the pair start to investigate the death, believing it to be linked to the occult.

The opening of the film wastes no time setting up the mystery. Landor is introduced and instantly summoned to the academy to start the investigation. There’s a brief summary of his backstory so you have an idea of who he is, and then he’s off investigating the crime, immediately noticing things that others have missed. He also gets some hints from Poe, and decides to hire him as his assistant to help him with the investigation.  

The cast is absolutely brilliant. Any film with Christian Bale is normally worth taking a look at. Then joining Bale, is Gillian Anderson, Toby Jones, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall. It’s just simply a brilliant ensemble cast. A cast that’s too good for the film that they’re starring in. The entire cast are good in their roles, especially Bale. Landor is a character, struggling with the loss of his wife who recently died, and his daughter who has been missing for two years. Harry Melling is also good as Edgar Allen Poe, he plays him as a quirky outcast who’s haunted by the ghost of his mother and sees the world through poetry.  

This is an incredibly slow film, and you definitely feel it in the first half. Once the mystery is set up it takes a long time for it to feel like progress is being made. The runtime is a little over two hours, which is just way too long for the story that’s being told. There’s a point around an hour in, when you realise that you’re not even halfway through, that the film starts to get a little boring. It does then pick up pretty quicky and with half an hour to go it feels like things are being wrapped up before a big twist is thrown in, which comes out of nowhere and kicks everything up a gear. The final sequence is the best bit of the entire film.

The Pale Blue Eye is fine. It’s not brilliant, and it’s not awful. It definitely doesn’t live up to how good the cast is, but it’s still entertaining. There are definitely worth ways to spend some time.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve seen The Pale Blue Eye, let me know your thoughts in the comments and if you liked my review, please subscribe to never miss a post:

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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2 Responses to The Pale Blue Eye – Film Review

  1. Tony Briley says:

    I expected a drab and slow burn going into this one, but kept finding myself bored and turning it off. But after just finishing the last act, I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I was as it all set up the final act, which was awesome in the way the dialog laid everything out. I loved the setting, reminded me of Ginger Snaps Back, and I think I’ll watch it again and see if I like it all the way through better the second time around.

    Liked by 1 person

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