The Pale Blue Eye (2022): Crime/Horror/Mystery

A renowned detective with a dramatic past is hired to solve a mysterious murder and enlists a young cadet and aspiring poet called Edgar Allan Poe.

The haunting photography, the dark poetry, the ostensible suicide that proves to be a crime full of enigma and deeper motives, and the man-for-hire with special skills will bring at least three films to your mind: Sleepy Hollow (1999), From Hell (2001), and The Raven (2012) where Poe is again involved in solving a crime. And while The Pale Blue Eye had all the potential of making it to that level, it doesn’t.

Christian Bale (Augustus Landor) is as good as you’d expect him to be, and Harry Melling (Edgar Allan Poe) exceeds everyone’s expectations. Toby Jones (Dr. Daniel Marquis), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Patsy), Gillian Anderson (Mrs. Marquis), and Robert Duvall (Jean Pepe) are always great no matter what they are in. One of the film’s main issues is that it could have been shorter. It is the editor’s and the studio’s (Netflix) job to see that, but it all depends on how much influence the director has. And writer/director Scott Cooper always has. While I haven’t read Louis Bayard’s book, I felt like certain sequences could have been more condensed, starting by cutting out the superfluous verbosity. But another main issue is the plot’s convolution that, unavoidably, leads to several “hold-on-a-minute” moments. I believe I followed the story through, yet certain incidents and revelations couldn’t sit properly with me. But maybe it is me. The film is ultimately saved by its twist, and that alone is enough for me to urge you to watch it.

I hope you enjoy it as it is well-made, and inundated with remarkable performances.

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