Should you watch ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ on Netflix? Review of the new Christian Bale movie

Image: Netflix

The latest crime drama from writer-director Scott Cooper, the pale blue eyenow it’s streaming, but should i give it a watch?

Talk to any comic book enthusiast and they will tell you that some of the funniest plot ideas come from the “What if…” style of writing.

What if Superman had been born in another country? What if the X-Men existed in the Elizabethan era? What would happen if Captain America ran for president?

But why should comic books and superheroes have all the fun?

Hollywood has been making larger-than-life biopics “loosely” based on real people and true stories for decades, but every once in a while, they decide to just rip off the “loosely” and go for the crossover stories we didn’t even know we wanted.

What if Socrates, Beethoven, and Joan of Arc helped a couple of teenagers with their history report? What would happen if Nikola Tesla created a machine for a magician’s disappearing act? What would happen if Abraham Lincoln saved the world from vampires?

What if a young Edgar Allan Poe helped a detective solve a murder during his time as a West Point cadet?

That last idea is the subject of Louis Bayard’s historical fiction novel, the pale blue eyethat caught the eye of veteran writer-director Scott Cooper (Hostiles, Out of the Oven, Crazy Heart), who adapted this Netflix original after writing many versions of the script over the years.

Set on the grounds of West Point Military Academy on the west bank of the Hudson River in New York, the film centers on local detective Augustus Landor, played by Cooper’s frequent collaborator Christian Bale, who is hired to investigate the mysterious death of one. of the cadets of the Academy. When it becomes clear that Landor can’t solve the case alone, he enlists the help of an eager but eccentric cadet named Edgar Allan Poe (played by Harry Potter & The Ballad of Buster Scruggs star Harry Melling).

Although we enter the world through the eyes of Bale’s Landor, Cooper describes the film as an “Edgar Allan Poe origin story” that has “the themes that ultimately influence (the) young untrained writer to become the writer he became”.

Like the 2012 Poe-centric film The Raven, The Pale Blue Eye is littered with references to Poe’s literary work and details of his personal life. Melling & Cooper’s portrayal of Poe depicts a scrawny intellectual who has been mistreated and harassed by his peers for most of his life; A tortured alcoholic with the soul of a poet who seeks the level of attention and admiration that his late mother bestowed upon him as a child.

in a interview with ColliderMelling described his approach to playing Poe within his relationship with Bale’s Landor:

“Something he always came back to was the idea that Landor offers him something that he needs, this anchor, this sense of place, this sense of belonging. And she also knew that she had to give Landor reasons enough to fall in love with Poe. Yes, you know him, he could be a very silly and very strange creature, but he had to give her enough reasons to want to invest in this person.”

the pale blue eye harry melling harry lawtey fred hecinger

Chrome Scott Garfield/Netflix © 2022

Those reasons for investing in Poe & Melling’s performance are the reasons why this movie works on every level.

His look, his behavior and his accent attract you at all times. The more she is at the center of the film, the more the film benefits from her presence. Melling continues his impressive accent as a strong character actor that builds on his previous roles in The Queen’s Gambit, Macbeth’s Tragedy& The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

While Melling is incredibly strong, the movie itself is very average. The most compelling parts of the story are hidden until the last 20 minutes, keeping the movie from being mediocre.

The cinematography from Cooper’s longtime cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi sits right next to Melling as the film’s backbone. The cool, gray tones and dense fog that offset the more vibrant blue uniforms set the right tone for such a haunting story. The look reminds me of comparable works like Gareth Evans’ Netflix original. Apostle and Tim Burton sleepy Hollow.

As for our leadership, Christian Bale is solid as ever; however, he plays it to himself so harshly and subtly that he doesn’t call attention to himself and in many cases fades into the background. His arc pays off in that final act, but he feels a bit late for the movie to be as effective as it wants to be.

christian bale and harry merging netflix the pale blue eye

Christian Bale as Augustus Landor and Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue Eye. Chrome Scott Garfield/Netflix © 2022

Given that the movie had a limited theatrical release and a release date set for late Q4, I think Netflix believed they might have a Sleeper Awards nominee on their hands. However, I don’t think this movie has enough makings to warrant any nominations this year. Melling is very good, but I think it will be overlooked if the movie doesn’t make enough noise for voters to notice.

Overall, if you’re a big fan of Cooper’s style or an over-the-top Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast, you might get more out of this movie than most; But, for me, the film will be remembered largely for Melling’s outstanding performance, let alone for the story within.

To watch the pale blue eye If you like:

  • hostile
  • out of the oven
  • black mass
  • Apostle
  • sleepy Hollow
  • The wonder

MVP of the pale blue eye

Henry Melling as Edgar Allan Poe.

This was a perfect casting. Melling’s striking facial features already draw you in, but then add Poe’s wit, intellect, and grim tone and you’ve got a recipe for success in a murder mystery like this.



Given the cast and the use of Poe as a character in a murder mystery, this movie should have been a lot stronger than it was. Melling’s performance and strong ending salvage a very slow and tedious start.