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The Pale Blue Eye | Movie Review

The Pale Blue Eye" is a mystery movie based on a novel by Louis Bayard

By Leo JamesPublished 4 months ago 2 min read

A movie viewer seeking a respite from the harsh winter may not desire more on-screen winter gloom. "The Pale Blue Eye" by Scott Cooper and featuring Christian Bale, set in 1830s rugged Hudson Valley, New York, does not shy away from the theme of bleak midwinter. Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi beautifully captures the grayscale with occasional bursts of blue from West Point Military Academy's cadet uniforms and nearby waterways. The movie primarily takes place at the then-young academy.

The winter setting befits the story's dark plot. A cadet at the West Point Military Academy, Fry, is found dead with his heart removed, sparking fear among the academy's leaders of a potential scandal. To avoid such consequences, they hire retired lawman Augustus Landor, portrayed by Bale, to investigate.

Landor is a lonely widower who lives as a "cottager" and struggles with depression despite his sharp wit. He frequents a local tavern run by the warm-hearted Charlotte Gainsbourg and has a reputation for extracting confessions through his piercing gaze. Despite being a solitary figure, he is tasked with solving the chilling murder at the heart of the academy.

The removal of hearts from dead bodies hints at a dark and sinister motive. Detective Landor soon uncovers a potential connection to devil worship. However, a cadet who has been monitoring the investigation dismisses this theory, asserting that the culprit was not a devil worshipper but a poet.

Detective Landor forms a bond with a cadet, the future poet Edgar Allan Poe (played by Harry Melling), who is an outcast among his militaristic peers. The duo sets their sights on investigating the academy's doctor, Daniel Marquis (Toby Jones), and his eccentric family. The household, headed by Mrs. Marquis (known for her impulsive destruction of household china), includes the talented and breathy pianist Lea (played by Lucy Boynton) who suffers from epilepsy.

Edgar, along with all the other cadets, falls in love with Lea, who notes that his morbid tendencies suit him. In return, Edgar recites his poetry on "Lenore" to her. The film's title, "The Pale Blue Eye," is derived from this romantic and poetic connection.

The Pale Blue Eye" features Edgar Allan Poe, played by Harry Melling, as a sensitive and artistic outcast among the rough-edged cadets at West Point Military Academy. He is taken under the wing of retired lawman Augustus Landor, portrayed by Christian Bale, who is investigating the mysterious death of a cadet with a missing heart. The two focus their attention on the eerie Marquis family, consisting of a chaotic Mrs. Marquis, an enchanting Lea, and the enigmatic Doctor Daniel Marquis. Edgar finds himself drawn to Lea, who shares his morbid interests and appreciates his poetic musings on "Lenore." The film's title, "The Pale Blue Eye," is inspired by this literary connection.

"The Pale Blue Eye" is a mystery movie based on a novel by Louis Bayard. With a small pool of characters, the film initially appears to be a straightforward murder mystery. However, it becomes clear that the mystery is just a facade for the movie's real focus: exploring loss and mistaken decisions. The film stars Christian Bale, who delivers a nuanced and slightly enigmatic performance that blooms as the story progresses. The movie pays homage to Edgar Allan Poe, the real-life figure who is considered the creator of the American detective story, while also shining a light on the darker aspects of the human psyche.

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About the Creator

Leo James

My writing journey started with poetry but shifted to captivating horror fiction, infused with intricate plots & evocative. Unique perspective & dedication solidified me as a rising star in horror fiction, captivating & haunting readers.

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