"The Pale Blue Eye" is a crime film about the investigation of a strange murder with connections to the occult. It was released on Netflix at the start of the film year 2023 and features an excellent cast, including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gillian Anderson, and Robert Duvall.
While trying to solve a series of murders, which have been committed over the years, a detective who suffers from personal trauma and addiction finds himself sinking further and further into despair as he tries to solve the crimes.
The detective, Augustus Landor, is portrayed by Christian Bale and is a grizzled investigator who lives alone in the forest after the death of his wife and the loss of his daughter. Landor is pulled out of his usual routine when he is invited to investigate the mysterious death of a cadet at the West Point Military Academy.
The film was adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard and was written and directed by Scott Cooper, marking Cooper's third collaboration with Bale. One of the main characters in the story is Edgar Allan Poe, the American poet who attended the West Point Military Academy and is known as a founder of the detective genre in literature.
This adds an interesting element to the story.
Summary of the film
In 1830, Cadet Leroy Fry is found hanging from a tree in a New York camp, his chest cut open and his heart ripped out. Detective Augustus Landor is assigned to the case, but he struggles with his contempt for the military and his addiction to alcohol.
He is aided by Edgar Allan Poe, a young cadet who suggests that the murderer is a poet because of the symbolic nature of the crime. As the investigation progresses, another murder with the same MO occurs, leading Landor to suspect that satanic rituals may be involved.
Some clues point to the family of the pathologist, Dr. Marquis, but the truth is ultimately revealed to be something different. Although the film has impressive production design and a talented cast, the weak script undermines the overall experience.
Despite this, "The Pale Blue Eye" is still worth watching for its cinematography and other examples of excellent filmmaking.