The Pale Blue Eye Is Grisly, Grim, and Surprisingly Moving

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Top user Asked on January 7, 2023 in Movie.
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The Pale Blue Eye Is Grisly, Grim, and Surprisingly Moving 

RE: The Pale Blue Eye Is Grisly, Grim, and Surprisingly Moving

The Hudson Valley’s stark forests and snow-covered mountains have seldom appeared more menacing than they do in Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eye, a mystery that is more about atmosphere than cleverness. However, Cooper obviously understands that mysteries live or die in their atmosphere, thus the suspense may actually be enhanced by the shiver you feel in your bones. Those of us who used Sherlock Holmes as a stepping stone into serious literature can attest to the fact that the Victorian era, cobblestone streets, and gaslight were all just as important to our fascination as the cases themselves, if not more so. Here is a strong, period-appropriate alternative to those tales that is set in the 1830s at West Point and is just as dense and murky.

The Pale Blue Eye, which is based on Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel, tells the story of retired New York investigator Augustus Landor (Christian Bale), who is called out of retirement to look into the gruesome death of a cadet at the United States Military Academy. Nobody knows why Leroy Fry (Matt Helm), who was found hanging and with his heart removed, committed suicide or was murdered.

The grizzled, grimacing Landor accepts the case despite having an underlying antagonistic connection with the school and displaying complete scorn for everyone in his immediate vicinity. Then he recruits an uncomfortable young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) to help him out, telling him right once that the murderer they’re looking for must be a poet. Poe says, “The heart is a symbol, or it is nothing. “Removing a man’s heart is equivalent to symbol trafficking. Who, then, is more qualified for such work than a poet?

deep, dude. Poe captivates Landor, who begins to admire this young eccentric man. It’s jarring to watch warmth toward someone else creep into Bale’s gaze because he has mastered playing aloof characters for such a long time. Landor came to these woods hoping to find happiness with his family but instead found himself alone and resentful. Landor lost his wife to illness, and we are told that his daughter recently ran away from home. We begin to comprehend why Landor has become more accommodating toward this outcast poet-cadet when Poe pays a visit to his home and admires books that are obviously his daughter’s: He is reminded of his lost daughter by the young man. Poe may also need some fatherly grounding because he claims to occasionally communicate with his deceased mother.

The entire scene is driven by the father-son relationship, which also sets up numerous pivotal scenes in the movie’s finale. That puts a lot of demands on Melling in turn, and you never quite know where he’s going with his fantastic Poe. He imparts a fey, haunting assurance to this outsider with his cavernous eyes dominating a face otherwise made up of cheekbone and chinHe fluctuates between grandiosity and swells of melancholy, which is a trait of a true Romantic. You can sense the sorrow of his ending up at West Point. You get the impression from Poe’s gestures and voice that he would either leave his mark on the world or perish in a ditch (in actual life, Poe only spent a short time at the school). (It turns out that both kinds occurred.)

The Pale Blue Eye delivers rather typical plot developments on a strictly narrative level: a secret letter here, an undiscovered wound there, a secret journal there. However, because this is a fundamentally comfortable genre, familiarity is both acceptable and encouraged. Cooper is also aware of the potential power of confidently used clichĂ©s. He leans towards them (he is, after all, the creator of Crazy Heart)Early on, a doomed character experiences a full-blown seizure instead of merely coughing. Delivering exposition is done with actorly panache. It helps that the supporting cast is hilariously overstuffed with actors who have starred in entire films: Timothy Spall plays the head of West Point, Toby Jones plays the school doctor, Gillian Anderson (!) plays the doctor’s emotionally fragile wife, and Charlotte Gainsbourg (!!) plays a bartender. A professor of occultism is played by Robert Duvall (!!!). There is at least one significant miscasting among the younger performers, but to reveal more would be a spoiler (is he the only American in the cast? Possibly.)

In the end, everything is rather engrossing, not simply because of Bale and Melling and the ethereal ambience but also because the crimes under investigation are terrible on a practically existential level. The murders are horrific enough to pique our interest, and Cooper makes sure to keep us interested by focusing on the victims’ pasty, bloated bodies, their horrifying, coagulated wounds, and the rigour mortis-stiffened fingers that are being cracked on autopsy tables.

The movie now faces the difficulty of finding a resolution that not only makes sense but also respects the horrifying severity of the acts committed. Amazingly, the movie’s ending is a real hoot; it was completely unexpected but was wonderfully delivered because of the creative use of information. The Pale Blue Eye gives us all the information we need to solve the mystery and still manages to pull the rug out from under us, in contrast to many mysteries that are intentionally written so that the audience cannot solve them (which is a valid strategy; keep in mind that Arthur Conan Doyle never gave us all the necessary clues, either). The picture’s vibrant scenery and unexpectedly touching fundamental connection, though, are ultimately what stand out.


Top user Answered on January 7, 2023.
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