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Thursday, December 22, 2022

Netflix’s ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ Review – Gothic Murder Mystery Explores Edgar Allan Poe’s Detective Origins

One of America’s literary greats, Edgar Allan Poe is most associated with horror thanks to his macabre, Gothic poetry and short stories. But the writer is also often credited with being a detective fiction pioneer. Director Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eye, an adaptation of Louis Bayard’s novel, crafts a fictional Gothic whodunnit around Poe’s tenure as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The languid Gothic murder mystery is more interested in examining how Poe’s life experiences may have influenced his work, resulting in a quiet, meditative mood piece.

A cadet’s dead body is found in West Point in 1830. When examiners find the body’s heart missing and fear for the military academy’s image, authorities enlist detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) to solve the case. When the bodies start piling up, and Augustus finds the cadets unwilling to talk, he enlists the help of an eccentric outcast, a young, bullied cadet named Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). The unlikely pair discover nothing is as it seems while the danger mounts around them.

Pale Blue Eye review netflix

The Pale Blue Eye. (L to R) Christian Bale as Augustus Landor and Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue Eye. Cr. Scott Garfield/Netflix © 2022

The stunning snowy landscapes lend natural beauty to Cooper’s latest, captured in breathtaking fashion by D.P. Masanobu TakayanagiHoward Shore’s score sets the proper somber mood. Yet it’s the impressive cast that stands out the most. Robert DuvallToby JonesSimon McBurney, and Timothy Spall take on supporting roles as various experts, physicians, and military academy leaders, aiding and thwarting Augustus’s quest. Lucy Boynton’s demure Lea Marquis finds herself drawn into the mystery as a distraction for Poe, while Gillian Anderson steals a scene or two as Lea’s more outgoing mother.

Bale’s emotionally aloof yet complex Augustus may drive the narrative, but Melling’s take on Poe upstages everything. Aside from a passing resemblance to Poe, the actor wholly commits to the character’s peculiarities and oddball personality. More than just a quirky poet with a scorn for academy life, Melling brings Poe’s vulnerabilities to the surface in an affecting way. This Poe feels keenly. He’s passionate and open about his emotions, making him a target among peers. It takes an emotional toll, even when he attempts to bury them with his words. Melling’s Poe is desperate for human connection, and it informs everything about his arc, from instant crushes to latching onto Augustus as a father figure.

The Pale Blue Eye. (L to R) Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe and Lucy Boynton as Lea Marquis in The Pale Blue Eye. Cr. Scott Garfield/Netflix © 2022

That shaky bond between Poe and Augustus takes a while to expose its raw center. Still, it compellingly grounds Cooper’s feature even as the murder mystery’s unhurried unfurling threatens to diminish interest. While ultimate reveals are satisfying, Cooper’s choice to explicitly divulge all the details in an extended epilogue-like sequence undermines its emotional impact. Luckily, that’s where the talented cast comes into play. The chemistry between Bale and Melling supersedes those flaws, ensuring a satisfying conclusion for both characters.

The Pale Blue Eye posits that Poe’s years as a cadet at West Point taught him how to spin a detective yarn, how one detective took him under his wing and changed his entire outlook. Despite grisly deaths and operatic twists, Cooper is less interested in the macabre acts and more about the interiority of his two leads. That makes for a tremendously sleepy character study without much in the way of thrills. But thanks to impeccable craftsmanship and a riveting performance by Melling, this fictional tale does enough to do right by Poe.

The Pale Blue Eye releases in select theaters on December 23, 2022, before debuting on Netflix on January 6, 2023.

The post Netflix’s ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ Review – Gothic Murder Mystery Explores Edgar Allan Poe’s Detective Origins appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3743716/netflixs-the-pale-blue-eye-review-gothic-murder-mystery-explores-edgar-allan-poe-detective-origins/

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