As a director, Scott Cooper has achieved a status for dealing with the robust textures of the western; now he applies that experience to this satisfying if completely preposterous historic thriller thriller, tailored by Cooper from the 2003 bestseller by Louis Bayard, an writer famend for his ingenious reimaginings of real-life historic figures and well-known fictional characters.
The Pale Blue Eye takes place in 1830 and Christian Bale, in full haunted/bearded mode (the identical that he had for Cooper’s 2017 western drama Hostiles), performs famend detective Augustus Landor; he’s in a semi-retired, semi-hermit state, a tragic widower whose daughter has disappeared. However Landor is unusually taken with a grotesque case that’s put to him. A cadet on the US navy academy in West Level has been murdered; hanged and his coronary heart reduce out of his physique. Varied glowering and bewhiskered senior officers (performed by Simon McBurney and Timothy Spall) are ready to miss Landor’s boozy insolent perspective due to his status for good crime-solving.
However Landor wants some assist with this weird case – and he will get it from a sure officer cadet, one Edgar Allan Poe (performed with unique solemnity by Harry Melling) who along with his dreamy-melancholy method and his predilection for poetry and unusual craving fantasies, could be simply the person who may intuit what’s going on. (And naturally, Poe actually was briefly an officer cadet at West Level.) Might it’s that this horrible case involving a coronary heart would possibly encourage Poe’s later work? A sure raven is seen croaking away there as effectively.
As Landor’s investigations proceed, he finds himself bewildered not merely by the whimsical Poe, however by the navy physician and his spouse on the bottom (a Dickensian couple performed with gusto by Toby Jones and Gillian Anderson), and an skilled on the occult performed by Robert Duvall. As issues prove, this case activates a reasonably ridiculous coincidence: however by no means thoughts, it’s an entertaining piece of counter-factual noir.