Christian Bale in a grisly murder mystery

Edgar Allen Poe, the early nineteenth century writer of twisted tales like The Fall Of The House Of Usher and The Pit And The Pendulum, has lengthy fascinated modern-day authors and filmmakers. Perhaps it’s as a result of he died aged 40 in unusual circumstances, his previous few days as fiendish a thriller as any he conjured up. Or merely that he’s credited as the daddy of the detective story, lengthy earlier than Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie ever set pen to paper.

In The Pale Blue Eye, director Scott Cooper’s stately tackle Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel, Poe seems as a younger cadet at West Point, the famed US navy academy within the Hudson Valley. The 12 months is 1830, and a fellow attendee has been discovered hanged. Even extra disturbing, the corpse has been violated within the hospital ward – the guts carved from the chest. The academy’s superintendent (Timothy Spall) needs this grisly crime solved, shortly and discreetly.

Enter Augustus Landor, a veteran sleuth performed by Christian Bale, who’s charged with investigating the homicide. More bizarre goings-on unfold, as livestock are equally mutilated. And these Landor meets proffer odd pronouncements: “Man will do almost anything to cheat death,” mutters Charlotte Gainsbourg’s barkeep. It’s in her tavern that Landor encounters Poe, performed with eccentric brilliance by one-time Harry Potter alumni Harry Melling, who lately is popping into a really positive character actor (see Coen Brothers gem The Ballad Of Busters Scruggs).

Christian Bale and Harry Melling in ‘The Pale Blue Eye’. CREDIT: Netflix

All in The Pale Blue Eye is fictional, aside from Poe’s attending of West Point when he was 21. Melling’s Poe is the person earlier than he turned the author, though the seeds are already planted for one who revels within the macabre. He cryptically tells Landor that the offender is a “poet” – presumably as a result of slicing out an organ like the guts has some symbolic worth. He’s additionally keen on a drink or two, which simply so occurs to be Landor’s weak spot (he’s informed to conduct his investigation with out consuming alcohol – the worst dry January you may consider).

Backed by Netflix, and touchdown on its platform this Friday (January 6), The Pale Blue Eye looks as if a curious film for the streamer. It strikes slower than a snoozy snail, which can put these aching to fiddle with their telephones or the distant management off. But keep it up: it’s a wealthy and rewarding journey, particularly for many who get their kicks from tales that dip into the occult. Like a proto-Angel Heart, this gloomy story mingles with Satanic darkness.

Suitably, it’s additionally crammed with eccentric supporting characters. Like the legendary Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), right here enjoying a scholarly knowledgeable in symbols. Or Gillian Anderson, the one-time X-Files star solid as a shrill upper-crust society spouse, and Bohemian Rhapsody’s Lucy Boynton as her ailing daughter. Cooper, who beforehand made Hostiles and Out of the Furnace with Bale, units them adrift in a frozen, fog-shrouded panorama that can chill you as a lot as these crimes. It’s not a movie for everybody, particularly if you happen to’re craving fast-moving motion. But for Poe followers, it’s a grisly deal with.


  • Director: Scott Cooper
  • Starring: Christian Bale, Lucy Boynton, Harry Melling
  • Release date: January 6 (Netflix)

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