Title – The Pale Blue Eye (2022)
Director – Scott Cooper (Hostiles)
Cast – Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, Gillian Anderson
Plot – Hired to investigate a grisly murder, Augustus Landor (Bale) must utilise the skill-set of young upstart Edgar Allan Poe (Melling) to help him uncover the mysteries of the case in the gloomy surrounds of early 1800’s New York.
“Every heart tells a tale”
Review by Eddie on 18/01/2023
The directing/writing career of actor turned filmmaker Scott Cooper continues to be an enigma with his latest release, the big budgeted Netflix release The Pale Blue Eye adding to the mystery that is the up and down trajectory of Cooper’s films with a stale and lifeless murder mystery that is sure to bring on sleep not so much tension and thrills.
Coming onto the directing scene with the Jeff Bridges starring country music drama Crazy Heart in 2009, Eye ranks as one of Cooper’s most insipid efforts yet and easily the worst of his collaborations with leading man Christian Bale, that has lead also to the OK if unmemorable Out of the Furnace and Cooper’s best and most curiously overlooked gem Hostiles, with Eye delivering none of the emotional power of the western epic or the artistry that was on display there also.
Adapting Louis Bayard’s novel, Cooper seemingly had the perfect canvas to strike gold with here with a loaded cast that includes the growing in stature Harry Melling and a who’s who of British acting talent, an exciting sounding story that mixes in a murder investigation with the formative years of the legendary poet and author Edgar Allan Poe while all taking place in the unique surrounds of a snow drenched early 1800’s New York military academy but Eye fails in all areas as it struggles to gain any momentum along its two hour runtime.
Not bothering with an ounce of set-up or character building, Cooper gets stuck straight into the thick of things as Bale’s hard drinking widower and detective Augustus Landor is tasked with unlocking the identity of a culprit who has set about murdering military cadets at the West Point facility, a case that sees Landor enlist the aid of Melling’s current cadet Edgar Allan Poe who believes he can assist the detective unlock the mysteries of an eerie case unlike any they have seen or heard of before.
Along Landor’s and Poe’s journey we come across Toby Jones softly spoken doctor Dr. Daniel Marquis, Gillian Anderson’s unnerving Julia Marquis, Lucy Boynton’s struggling Lea and Robert Duvall’s Jean Pepe but none of these characters make much of a mark or in turn allow their actors too do much with them while Eye’s TV movie of the week like production design and delivery doesn’t make this 70+ million dollar effort feel like it’s at all a case of money well spent with Cooper unable to focus or give his tale anything worth a note with a late game twist far from enough to make the preceding trudge worthwhile.
Final Say –
The most forgettable and dour Cooper and Bale collaboration yet, The Pale Blue Eye is an extremely disappointing Netflix original that had potential to be something special but achieves nothing but a showcase that Cooper may not be the calibre of director he believes himself to be.
2 torn notes out of 5