[Netflix] “The Pale Blue Eye” by Scott Cooper: Edgar Allan Poe detective

If Scott Cooper has always been an overrated and irregular director, he reaches with this appalling Netflix production the lowest point to date of his “work”, which combines ridiculous scenario and lackluster performance of the majority of the cast who are as bored as we.

Christian Bale – Copyright SCOTT GARFIELD/NETFLIX © 2022

In the USA, we love the (rare) mythical figures of culture so much that we accommodate them in all the sauces, which probably does not contribute to the general culture of the country: ten years later abraham lincoln as a valiant vampire hunter (the film by Timur Bekmambetovof sinister memory), here is Edgar Allan Poe, THE American poet par excellence, as a detective on the trail of satanic murderers ripping out the hearts of their victims. Well, as in 2022, we cannot entrust a national icon to the care of a Russian, this is the right place for the stage, Scott Cooper, which stuck to it. What is not necessarily better, we realize very quickly as The Pale Blue Eye (which could have made a good title for a biopic of the Velvet Underground) is – spoiler, spoiler! – a boring movie.

The Pale Blue Eye posterIt must be admitted that Scott Cooper is a convinced mannerist, a virtuoso in staging who also relies on his actors (Jeff Bridges in crazyheart, Christian Bale in the Blazes of Anger and in Hostile, his only real success), and still brews a lot of emptiness with an undeniable sense of aesthetics, but not much else consistent. And it will be the same thing here, for two hours ten minutes which seems like four, for our greatest misfortune…

It’s the 19th century, in the middle of a particularly harsh winter, and when a cadet from the prestigious military academy at West Point is found hanged and his heart torn out, the only thing left for the military is to call on the resources of a famous local detective, Landor, an alcoholic devastated by a family drama. Landor therefore resumes service, but lazily enlists the services ofEdgar Allan Poecadet at West Point, with whom he befriends (yes, a priori, poe spent at least a few months at West Point!).

From this not uninteresting introduction, and after three quarters of an hour, the film gets bogged down irremediably in a story that does not move forward, with interpretations all unworthy of the prestigious names who have agreed to row in this galley: Charlotte Gainsbourg (transparent), Gillian Anderson (caricature), Robert Duval (unrecognizable, poor thing). The worst is – against all expectations – the total absence of screen presence and even a minimum of energy on the part of Christian Bale, which, contrary to what it offers in general, does not make the slightest effort to save the turnip which is confirmed over the minutes. It is necessary to distinguish nevertheless in the middle of this slump the “performance” in Edgar Allan Poe of Harry Melling (yes, the Dudley of Harry Potter !) who does absolutely anything, but with an improbably whimsical style that contrasts with the papal seriousness of the rest of the cast: he is completely ridiculous, but at least he amuses us.

Good, the chief operator Masanobu Takayanagi did a great job, and the fans of poe will spend the time picking up references and nods to the poet’s work. It’s obviously not enough to keep us awake, at least until an unlikely dramatic twist in the final quarter of an hour, which proves that Netflix, like Hollywood’s worst studios, still hopes to pick up the ante by sacrificing integrity. from his films to good old recipes that appeal to the general public. The scenario of The Pale Blue Eye being taken from a book, it may be the author, Louis Bayardwho is responsible for this latest hoax.

Here, we finally wonder if we hadn’t preferred to see lincoln kill vampires. But, in any case, we suggest that Netflix not stop there and think about a HP. Lovecraft fighting against an alien invasion. It could do it, right?

Eric Debarnot

The Pale Blue Eye
American film by Scott Cooper
With: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Simon McBurney, Toby Jones…
Genre: Crime, Fantasy
Duration: 2h 08 min
Release date (Netflix): January 6, 2023

[Netflix] “The Pale Blue Eye” by Scott Cooper: Edgar Allan Poe detective – Benzine Magazine