This is the third time Christian Bale has starred in a film directed by Scott Cooper. The first time Bale played a steel mill worker trying to save his brother in Out of The Furnace (2013). The second had Bale playing an army captain in Hostiles (2017). Now, in The Pale Blue Eye, he plays a detective in the 1830s.
The premise of The Pale Blue Eye focuses on Detective Augustus Landor, played by Bale. The characters also include include West Point Cadet Edgar Allan Poe, played by Harry Melling, and Jean Pepe, played Robert Duvall. These three are the most important characters surrounding the film’s trembling terror of a crime spree.
In The Pale Blue Eye, Det. Landor is assigned to investigate a murder of a West Point cadet, and he recruits Poe to help him with the investigation. Many people assume the cadet died by suicide, but the evidence makes the case creepy for Landor and Poe, and time is of the essence in solving the case.
With Bale’s role as Det. Landor, expect a great amount of realism. Landor is a widower with alcohol issues, and the case grows to be more and more dangerous for him. I found myself wondering whether Landor could mentally handle the murder case. Duvall’s character, Pepe, is a philosopher who helps the detective understand the writing and symbolism clues tied into the murder case.
The twists and turns for Landor and Poe in The Pale Blue Eye are inevitable, and there are interesting political and religious aspects to the investigation. There may even be a cult involved in the cadet death, and that murder is just the beginning. The 1830s is an era where lanterns are flashlights, and there are of course no computers. The lack of technology means the case must be solved thorough calculations and logic.
The cinematography in The Pale Blue Eye gives the film a very eerie feel. The film is saturated with darkness, and it’s set in the fall and early winter with forest scenes and snow, which is unsettling. An interesting aspect of the era is that despite the lack of modern communication, whatever is said, seen, or heard is thrown right into the open; there is little confidentiality. So who can be trusted? Join the mystery and find out. Three stars for The Pale Blue Eye.