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  • Ellis Barthorpe

The Pale Blue Eye ★★★

Scott Cooper

Starring Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Lucy Boynton, Gillian Anderson, Robert Duvall

Followed by the whisperings of his past, Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is asked to solve a murder most disturbing; that of a young cadet from the US military. Early on Landor meets a well-educated cadet named Edgar Allen Poe (yes, that Edgar Allen Poe) and together they must solve a crime that has more twists and turns than a 19th century lane.


The Pale Blue Eye is a slow burning period piece that feels familiar from the word go. Caarried by its Christian Bale lead, it isn't without it's subversions; the last 45 minutes twist and turn, leaving you more shocked than you thought possible from a previously monotonous telling.

It's a gothic tale, though perhaps not shot gothic enough, with its style focusing more on the period than the beautifully vast surrounding landscape.


With Christian Bale playing the lead, and Harry Melling, Timothy Spall and Gillian Anderson all giving supporting performances, there's no hiding the inconsistent accents. A group of British actors hired to give particular American accents is an odd decision, and it removes the films sense of escapism, creating instead an transparent atmosphere of obvious performance and false display.

That said, those performances are passionate and strong; although a script that demands the scenery to be chewed, never does it feel too much. Harry Melling is a standout as E. A. Poe, being gifted several monologues to wrap his Southern drawl over.


The opening will fill you with intrigue, the middle will have you zoning out, but the end will pull you back around again. A mirky look at a story lacking in nuance, but riddled with twists.


The Pale Blue Eye available now on Netflix

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