Pale Blue Eyes review: Merlin trumps Bale in mismanaged gothic mystery
Pale Blue Eyes, based on the novel by Louis Bayard, was intended to be a gothic detective novel. However, it hardly inspires second thoughts.
Scott Cooper and Christian Bale have had a great ride together. "Pale Blue Eyes" is the third film in what Bale is now calling a trilogy of revenge ethics, after "Out of the Furnace" and "Rivalry" are the first two. Since vengeance is a loose theme that ties all three films together, this collaboration has a stronger connection that has remained consistent: Bale is a great actor, while Cooper continues to grow as a writer-director. The Pale Blue Eye, based on the novel by Louis Bayard, was originally a gothic detective novel. It can be viewed a second or third time to discover details or clues that were missed on the first viewing. Once it's over, however, it hardly inspires a second viewing, let alone a second thought.
"Pale Blue Eyes" tells the story of famed veteran detective Augustus Lando (Christian Bale), who is summoned to West Point for the most pressing matter - the hanging of a cadet, who body was mutilated. Fearing that there might be satanic behavior in the college, Lando was asked to use his outstanding talents to solve the mystery Solve complex cases. This time, he finds himself with an unusual but willing partner: Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling), the chatty cadet seeking a chance to get thrills the way the Academy failed. Landor and Poe search for the truth and discover that acts of violence may seem horrific, but the motives behind them are as human as they come.
The Pale Blue Eye showcases Cooper's growth as a filmmaker, especially as one who creates the unique atmosphere in which his stories thrive. Cooper is able to create a visual language that adds layers and texture to his stories, but most impressively, he captures the audience's attention. Production-wise, "Pale Blue Eyes" is as flawless as it can be. The costume and production design are wonderfully gothic, and Masanobu Takayanagi's cinematography makes the most of the story's dark themes and is the perfect bow to tie everything together. Light blue eyes look good; there's no denying that. Yet Cooper's flaw remains in the same place as his other traits, and that's his ability to tell a story.
The Pale Blue Eye is technically good, there's little to complain about in that regard. However, Cooper failed to pace his story Create the tension and sense of danger that the third act so desperately needs. Although the vast majority of non-American ensembles were on board, the character was stifled. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gillian Anderson and Lucy Boynton suffer the most, their roles little more than set pieces. Gainsbourg is perhaps the most egregious waste, since she's just a sounding board for Bale's Landor. The pair also had no chemistry. Anderson and Boynton played pivotal roles in the mystery, but both were shelved due to limited screen time and Cooper's failure to tell his story compellingly. Anderson's creative choices come across as silly rather than purposeful.
The failure in the story is reflected in the poor characterization, but it is only through one character that we see Cooper's vision shine brightest. Bale is brilliant and his talent as an actor is unquestionable. However, when it comes to murder mysteries that involve the occult but revolve primarily around the darkness of life, it's the gothic horror that best suits the Edgar Allan Poe-led vehicle. However, Poe is not the protagonist, but a supporting role. Although "Pale Blue Eyes" may be fictional, the character Edgar Allan Poe's rings are genuine and authentic. Cooper's work, combined with Harry Melling's dynamic and passionate portrayal, make Poe a star of the film. At best, he's Landor's Sherlock's Watson. As far as Lando is concerned, he's a compelling character, but one that Bell has already played. There's little surprise or excitement in his performance or in Cooper's intensely focused characters.
The Pale Blue Eye is an example of film being the wrong medium to tell this particular story. A mystery involving so many people, delicate relationships and narrative threads at play, Cooper stumbles over how to structure his narrative to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. The final scene is rushed and chaotic. With very little engaging characterization incorporated into the narrative, the ending comes off with a bang. When the third act ends, the two-hour runtime feels simultaneously too long and too short. Cooper could have stepped up the pace to create urgency and drama, or fleshed out his ideas and characters in the miniseries. Either way, his growth as a filmmaker will require Extend to his writing, otherwise his collaboration with Bell will continue to provide diminishing returns.
For "Pale Blue Eyes" to be successful, Cooper needed to reconfigure its narrative to center Edgar Allan Poe, making the poet's famously dark and creepy temperament a terrifying The basis for gothic mystery stories. The slope is a feature, not a fixture. Ultimately, Pale Blue Eyes feels more like a missed opportunity than a story worth enjoying alone. As far as historical fiction goes, the film fails to capitalize on its central historical characters, and Merlin's performance in particular is a shining light.
NEXT: Matilda the Musical Review: A Fantastic Film That Delivers Justice on Stage^ Pale Blue Eyes opens in limited theaters on December 23, 2022 and opens on January 6 at Play on Netflix. The film is 128 minutes long and has been rated R by some for violence and gory imagery.