The Pale Blue Eye is the mystery thriller we've been waiting for

The Pale Blue Eye is the mystery thriller we've been waiting for

The Pale Blue Eye is exactly the title for you if you are a fan of mystery and horror, the old-fashioned one, more psychological than visual, but above all if you love the gothic atmosphere of the mid-1800s. Scott Cooper and Christian Bale are collaborating again , they do it with this film available on Netflix from January 6 , a certainly atypical product, one of those that today we know would fail big time at the box office , but which are not without merits and quality for this. rather. However, it cannot be denied that this is not a film for everyone, but rather a work that knows it is sought after and different from the norm, which has always been a constant in the director's cinematography. However, even the most profane cannot fail to appreciate Bale's charisma and chemistry with a Harry Melling in a state of grace, the other cornerstone of a film poised between classicism and experimentation.

A thriller in the name of Edgar Allan Poe

The Pale Blue Eye stars detective Augustus Landor ( Christian Bale ), a somewhat obscure man with a difficult character, but whose known ability makes him leads to being chosen in 1830 by the leaders of the West Point military academy to solve a mysterious and terrible crime. A cadet was in fact found hanged and with his heart removed from his body with disturbing skill. Landor was one of the best and most famous in his field before the death of his wife and the mysterious disappearance of his daughter left him horribly shaken. Moved by an extraordinary talent and somewhat unconventional methods, he immediately sets out on the trail of the truth, but finds very little collaboration if not open hostility in the West Point Academy.

To give him support, however, comes a young and irreverent cadet named Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) who turns out to be a surprising and very useful investigation companion, demonstrating the same inner torment and above all a love for puzzles and for the deduction almost equal to his.

Meanwhile the murders overlap, the mystery thickens. Who will be behind those deaths? What's the motive? Who knows if the young and sweet Lea Marquis ( Lucy Boynton ) with her brother Artemus ( Harry Lawtey ) or their mother Julia ( Gillian Anderson ) may not know something useful.

In short for the improvised duo of bloodhounds, will begin an intricate hunt for the culprit that will lead them to face together their personal dramas and that never tame feeling of being constantly marginalized by everything and everyone.

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Scott Cooper is one of the most atypical directors of the modern panorama, always interested in talking to us about the struggle of the individual against himself, in a production dominated by the feeling of isolation, completely free from any optimism but above all a vision of society as a dictatorship of ferocity and arrogance. He proved it above all in the western Hostiles and in the thriller Revenge Fire, and in both it is no coincidence that Christian Bale was the protagonist.

The two go back to work on the set together and they do it in this hybrid film, halfway between horror and the more classic mystery, adaptation of a very interesting novel by Louis Bayard. The Pale Blue Eye allows Cooper to pay homage to an entire literary and cinematographic genre.

The title itself is already eloquent, with its link to The Telltale Heart, one of the most Poe's famous and innovative works. But it is not the only homage to the great author that the director disseminates within a very intricate, very sophisticated narrative labyrinth, perpetually intent on recovering the atmospheres of the father of modern literary alienation and psychological thriller. The Pale Blue Eye is populated by crows and quotations, with a gloomy and death-boosting, cold and oppressive atmosphere, in which the characters move gripped by inner dramas which, as you go along, tend towards the universal. Torment appears to be the leitmotif that links the lives of all the various protagonists, but in particular of the two detectives, so much so that Cooper even recreates it with the buddy movie in a modern sense.

A refined labyrinth made up of marginalization and alienation

Christian Bale makes his Augustus Landor a sort of dark and melancholy messenger from the underworld, a pariah wrapped in fog and cold, without any remorse in a hypocritical, intolerant, bigoted world. He wanders around impudently, almost always unkempt, wrapped in a frown that sometimes risks limiting the character's expressiveness. However, it cannot be denied that the Oscar winner is always capable of great interpretative coherence, above all of giving a profound humanity to what in all respects is a damned man, a broken man, as if clinging to something invisible and at the same time very powerful. Also for this reason the choice of Harry Melling (perhaps the most underrated actor of his generation) in the role of this Edgar Allan Poe halfway between truth and biographical fantasy proves to be apt.

He too is an outcast by vocation and above all for his being largely above the average in terms of sensitivity and open-mindedness. He certainly appears much more complex, intellectually lively and over the top than Landor, but like him characterized by a past of mourning and drama that led him to have a safe haven in his very lively intelligence and artistic nature. The Pale Blue Eye draws much of its strength from the dance between the two, from the synchronous movement of the two intelligences inside that gray barracks, wrapped in snow and in an obscurantist atmosphere, so much so that the Name of the Rose by Jean- Jacques Annaud.

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The Pale Blue Eye is also a incredibly well-finished film from an aesthetic point of view, with a historical re-enactment of great depth, an incredibly powerful, elegant photography by Masanobu Takayanagi that enhances Cooper's always robust and intimate direction. However, the tendency remains in the film to have a certain self-satisfaction, as well as not to develop all the characters animated by a rich cast, which includes among others Robert Duvall, Toby Jones and Timothy Spall. However, it is not enough to overshadow the refinement of the narrative construction. The apparent simplicity of the plot itself is in fact counterbalanced by an incredible ability to develop the characters, their emotions, their interactions and to bring them towards a truly captivating evolution.

The whole moves towards a hybrid identity, composed of a desire to merge Hitchcock's cinema of psychological terror with the best of gothic cinema, embracing the literary legacy of Poe, as well as Stoker, Shirley or Nodier. The Pale Blue Eye , net of some pauses and slowdowns that you take without fear, cannot fail to seduce for its atmosphere, for this icy and fascinating staging, as well as for the sudden accelerations it can give, pleasantly removing any type of certainty about the characters and their identities. Without a shadow of a doubt an entertainment product with a high index of authorship, the umpteenth proof of the talent of a director who proves to be very skilled in paying homage and at the same time deconstructing the pillars of American cinematographic identity. Likewise, as in the best of the horror tradition, it is also a film shot through with profound social criticism.

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