Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart Beats for this Pale Blue Eye

The Stream: Very deliberately paced also known as slow.

The Big Screen: Great costumes and production design set the mood appropriately to creepy.

The Final Bill: An engaging mystery with an immersive setting makes for an entertaining watch.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Scott Cooper based on a book by Louis Bayard
Stars: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Toby Jones, Gillian Anderson
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R for some violent content and bloody images
Runtime: 2 hours 8 minutes
Production Companies: Cross Creek Pictures, Le Grisbi Productions, Streamline Global Group
Platform: On Netflix January 6, 2023

Hey, Streamers! When the movie theaters are barren, it seems like the streaming services are able to fill in the gap. I was looking to be entertained at home, so I started the slow endless scroll and came upon something interesting. Apparently, at the beginning of the year, Netflix released a 2022 holdover, The Pale Blue Eye, which stars Christian Bale and Harry Melling as Edgar Allan Poe. Who can resist a mystery, thriller set in the snowy 1800’s? Let’s see how pale this blue eye is.

The Pale Blue Eye is an adaptation of a novel by Louis Bayard and directed by Scott Cooper. The story is set at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1830. A detective, August Landor (Bale), who has been in self-imposed retirement after the disappearance of his daughter, is recruited to investigate the mysterious death and dismemberment of a cadet. Landor enlist a young inquisitive cadet, Edgar Allan Poe (Melling), as an assistant in the investigation. The presence of Poe should give the audience a clue that this won’t be your run-of-the-mill investigation. Creepy, heart-stopping hijinks ensue.

As much as The Pale Blue Eye is a mystery, the movie relies heavily on the mood created by the remote location and all of the technical aspects of the movie. The location feels secluded, cold and everything is very shadowy. The costumes and sets appropriately convey the confines of both the military academy and the 1800s. Getting swept away by the design of the movie may increase your enjoyment of the story overall. Beyond that, the mystery is complicated and creepy enough to keep you guessing. Christian Bale and Harry Melling have good chemistry as the duo work together to solve the mysterious murders. Melling slips into the character of Poe well and he complements Christian Bale’s energy.

The biggest issue with The Pale Blue Eye is that the pacing is off. While it doesn’t take long for the investigation to begin, it is too slow getting to any real revelations. The film is deliberately paced, and that pace can feel glacial if you are not invested in the story. While I recognize that the movie is slow, I was captivated throughout, but I only had an issue when I thought the movie was over but then there was still 20 minutes left.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Ultimately, The Pale Blue Eye is an intriguing mystery movie. This movie avoids pitfalls of a lot of other murder mysteries. This film has great technical aspects, especially the costumes and set design. Christian Bale and Harry Melling are an interesting pair to watch. Although the movie is slow, it is interesting enough to hold your attention and has twists you will not expect. It is a big box of popcorn for murder mystery buffs and English majors.