A review of the new film “The Pale Blue Eye”

This Netflix movie – an adaptation of a novel – is set at the the US military academy at West Point in 1860 and the odd title is from a line of poetry. Written and directed by Scott Cooper, it starts as a slow criminal procedure but, as it picks up pace, it acquires elements of gothic horror. The conceit of the plotting is to place a real historical character at the centre of a fictional tale.

The scenery is majestic, but this is a dark work, both narratively and visually – indeed the use of natural lighting (this was before the age of electricity) make for some obscure interior scenes. Where the film really scores is in the acting. Christian Bale as the retired detective Augustus Landor and Harry Melling Cadet Edgar Allan Poe are excellent and the cast list also includes Toby Jones and Timothy Spall plus cameos from almost unrecognisable Gillian Anderson and Robert Duvall.


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