The Pale Blue Eye Review

The Pale Blue Eye
The Pale Blue Eye
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With Glass Onion, See How They Run, and Death On The Nile returning the whodunnit to its former glory, there is a great time for a murder mystery film that involves the founder of the genre himself. However, neither Louis Bayard’s original 2006 novel The Pale Blue Eye nor this moody adaptation by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Hostiles) go as far as to make Edgar Allan Poe the lead detective. As an agent summoned and partner in crime with him partly acting as his assistant or observer and then becoming a suspect.

It is worth repeating here that this also gives Cooper (as it did Bayard) the chance to litter the narrative with Poe-ish Easter eggs; particularly because he is introduced here as a young man about to be shaped by grim happenings at West Point (played by Dudley Dursley from one-time Harry Melling). But they focus more on Christian Bale’s Augustus Landor: a grizzled old man who used to serve in New York City police department and has now settled down in West Point. He drinks too much but since then he has lost his wife and daughter thus making him gloomier than even his winter weather surroundings.

And so it is that all the initial promise of The Pale Blue Eye begins to ebb away. True enough, Bale has worked wonders with Cooper before in Out Of The Furnace and Hostiles, but Landor isn’t very exciting. He lacks flair or charm like Benoit Blanc or Branagh’s Poirot as well as any endearing eccentricities peculiar to investigators apart from being sulky while rubbing Spall and McBurney up the wrong way. Personality cannot be confused for impertinence.

But he still can’t stop its disintegration into hokey occultism over time such that Gillian Anderson turns up in some bonneted buck toothed Coen caper ending up playing an insane mommy of a West Point brat. It is rather gory and completely unrealistic as the ending while the denouncement just does not work; in essence, the ‘who’ in this whodunit does not make sense along with the ‘why’ and ‘how’. On second thought it may be helpful but unlikely to make you want to try.

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