I am a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. The problem is that, though he has been portrayed several times over the years in movies, I have never seen one that truly worked well. Last year’s Raven’s Hollow was the most recent failure of Hollywood bringing Poe to life on screen.
That was why I was excited when I heard that Christian Bale was headlining a film called The Pale Blue Eye that would include Edgar Allan Poe. Bale was not playing Poe, but Bale is such a strong actor, he would bring credibility to the movie.
Bale played Augustus Landor, a detective who had been recruited to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet. During the investigation, Landor met Cadet Edgar A Poe (Harry Melling) who brought some insight into the case.
I will say it now. Harry Melling is now my favorite version of Edgar Allan Poe on the big screen. I found him just perfectly cast as the macabre poet/author, before fame struck him. He had an unusual appearance, striking for playing Poe, and he brought the melancholy aura associated with the poet.
I also think it was a smart move not to make the murder case an obvious allusion to one of Poe’s works. They tried to do that in Raven’s Hollow and it simple did not work. Perhaps one could make an argument that this could tie into The Tell-Tale Heart, but you have to stretch the movie’s plot to make it fit that concept.
Christian Bale was great, as he always is. There was a pain within him that was there beneath the surface and made this character work so well with Poe. Bale and Welling have a strong connection, helping each other with their awesome performances.
There was a strong cast around these two as well. Gillian Anderson, who has been choosing amazing roles since her days as Dana Scully on the X-Files, was wonderfully off -balance and loony as Mrs. Julia Marquis, the wife of the doctor involved in the case, Dr. Daniel Marquis, played by the ever epic Toby Jones. Robert Duvall was Jean Pepe, a friend and mentor of Landor. Timothy Spall, Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films, was another historical figure appearing in the movie, Superintendent Thayer, who was known as the “Father of West Point.”
I enjoyed this movie a lot and I especially loved the ending. As I said, I found Harry Melling’s work a Poe to be maybe the best to ever make it on the screen and the rest of the cast brings some fantastic work. The pacing may be a little slow, but I thought gave the characters some good space to breathe and give us plenty of red herrings to keep the mystery mysterious.
The Pale Blue Eye arrived on Netflix this weekend after debuting in selected theaters in 2022.