'The Pale Blue Eye' Review: Thrilling and smart, this Christian Bale murder mystery is a class act

'The Pale Blue Eye' Review: Thrilling and smart, this Christian Bale murder mystery is a class act
Christian Bale as Augustus Landor in 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Christian Bale is one of the greatest actors of this generation and his credentials are a testament to his extraordinary success. The actor doesn’t shy away from transforming into a completely different person for his movies and tends to do something different in all his movies. Bale is now set to investigate a gruesome murder mystery in Scott Cooper’s moody period movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’. Based on the novel of the same name, the movie primarily focuses on Detective Augustus Landor (Bale) who is called in by the US military academy to investigate the murder of one of their cadets. It’s certainly intriguing to see Bale donning the hat of a detective and investing in a murder, but does the movie is worth the hype? The answer to that question is YES!!!!

In recent years, Bale has taken a different route and appeared in several stories that made him work in an environment that was out of his comfort zone. But his character in ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ is certainly one of the most intriguing ones and it’s also one of the most challenging ones. Set in 1830, Augustus was contacted by the military to solve a gruesome murder case in which a cadet’s heart is skilfully removed. During the investigation, he finds out that the other cadets of the academy are not helping him in the investigation because of their code of silence. As a result, he takes the help of Edgar Allan Poe (Henry Melling), a student of the academy who loves writing poetry, to probe the case. As they unravel the mystery, they soon find out that the case is more than just a murder mystery and includes a lot of factors.

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Christian Bale as Augustus Landor, Harry Melling as Cadet Edgar Allen Poe in 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)
Christian Bale as Augustus Landor, Harry Melling as Cadet Edgar Allen Poe in 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)

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The cinematography of the movie by Masanobu Takayanagi is brilliant and almost colorless in the palette. One of the best shots of the movie comes where a group of cadets wearing blue-gray dresses go through the forest in search of their missing colleague and you’ll be encouraged to say “wow” out loud.

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At times, people might feel that they have seen this previous movie, but Cooper has done a phenomenal job in exceeding all the expectations with a mystery that might be a slow burn, but is effective as it moves forward. Apart from the intriguing murder mystery, the best part of the movie is the amazing relationship between Landor and Poe. Although they start as partners, but they quickly become friends and understand each other like no one ever has.

A still from 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)
A still from 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)

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Meanwhile, Cooper’s disciplined direction makes the movie even more compelling and manages to create a tonal consistency that always keeps the viewers at the edge of their seats.

As far as performances are concerned, Bale delivers another majestic performance as a detective who is intellectual and never lets his guard down. However, he still manages to bring something new to his character. Bale’s acting talent soars high in the movie’s third act where he is given the space to flex his acting muscles. On the other hand, Henry Melling is undoubtedly the soul of the movie. He was the perfect choice to play the role of Edgar Allan Poe who is known for writing some really good poetry. Melling’s performance is layered and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Bale.

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Toby Joned and Gillian Anderson in 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)
Toby Joned and Gillian Anderson in 'The Pale Blue Eye' (Netflix)

Toby Jones, Gillian Anderson, and Lucy Boynton have done an incredible job in their respective roles.

The writing is another aspect that makes the movie engrossing and makes ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ different than the other movies in the genre. It’s like seeing a movie where you know you know it all, but Cooper does something that makes it clear that no one has seen anything like it.

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Overall, ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ is a thrilling murder mystery that’s stylish and smart. It’s a slow burn dripping with a dark mood. This movie is a class act.

**** stars

‘The Pale Blue Eye’ will be available for streaming on Netflix on January 6th.

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