The Pale Blue Eye is a film of Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Hostile), in his third collaboration with Christian Bale.

This work could be a little hidden gem that is likely to go unnoticed due to the choices of Netflix. The film was in fact released at the end of December (2022) in a few selected theaters, to then be put on the platform starting from January 6 (2023).
The story is taken from the book of the same name (quote from The revealing heart) Of Louis Bayard of 2003, and tells of a series of murders that take place at the West Point Academy in the years in which Edgar Allan Poe he was one of the cadets.  

I think it was his eye! Sure, that was it! One of her eyes resembled a vulture's - a pale blue eye,

The Tell-Tale Heart, 1843, Edgar Allan Poe

A little texture

The discovery of Cadet Fry's body requires the discreet intervention of a veteran of the investigations, Augustus Landor, played by a very good Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, American Psycho). ThereThanks to his acting that is never over the top, sometimes even subordinated to the scenography and script, he gives the portrait of an old-fashioned, tired and disillusioned lawyer. After almost retiring to private life, he is called back into service to shed light on what appears to be a suicide. Immediately in contrast with the military rule, Landor discovers that in reality the cadet was killed. 


When the the case does not disturb

From here a mystery with gothic hues unfolds, which winks at horror without ever really crossing the threshold. West Point then becomes the scene of other macabre finds. Among the bodies found hanged and castrated and the carcasses of animals, the viewer wonders what is happening. Between possible satanic rites, lost and found books and the true horror of life, we are witnessing a film that goes through ups and downs. 

In The Pale Blue Eye everything happens by chance. While this might make script purists turn up their noses, in this case it works. The characters are thus introduced in a fluid way, so that they can take their places on a slowly composing chessboard.    

In this way the interactions between the protagonists are not forced, which could happen in a film that lasts just over two hours. The initial part of the film is very strong, but the middle part shows some weaknesses in the plot. These are remedied when the viewer is faced with the final plot twist that no one expected.  

pale blue eyes


A plethora of characters take turns on the stage played by a respectable cast. In addition to Bale, who could read the shopping list and still grip the viewer to the screen, we find the revelation of the film: Harry melling (Harry Potter, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Old Guard) who has come a long way since he played the extra large role of Dudley. He had already leapt to public attention thanks to Joel coen (La ballata di Buster Scruggs, 2018) and now confirms himself as an actor to watch out for. Edgar Allan Poe's almost exaggerated interpretation of him, full of theatrical mannerisms and attentive to the thousand facets of the famous author's restless soul, places him in the difficult role of someone who steals the show not only from Bale himself but also from actors of the caliber of Robert duvall (APocalypse Now, The Judge, The Apostle, The Rain people) e Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia, Nymphomaniac, The Accusation). Among other famous names we can only mention Gillian Anderson (X-Files, fri Education), Toby Jones (The mole, It racconto dei racconti) is Timothy spall (Harry Potter, The last samurai).


When director and director of photography are a steady couple

Netflix paid $55 million to secure worldwide market rights to distribute the film. However, the production remains a medium-budget one. This makes it even more incredible that Masanobu Takayanagi (Hostiles, Warrior), also on his third collaboration with Cooper, managed to shoot on location, without making use of exteriors recreated in the studio. Objective not easy to achieve nowadays!

We preferred to use the natural lights of the leaden winter of West Pennsylvania. The color palette consists predominantly of blues and grays. These two aspects make the atmosphere dark and ominous, suited to the sense of inevitable tragedy that permeates the whole story. The cinematographer was really good at showing how the mood of a film is essential to support the whole story!

As evidence of his mastery, there is, in the entire film, a single scene shot in warm tones. The various shades of red and orange, given by the lighted candles, fill a saloon with that light which is lacking in the rest of the film. It is a deliberate choice to create a demarcation line between what happens outside, and the way the characters behave when they can be seen by others, and what happens inside, where confessions and relationships intersect to lead the viewer to the final twist that leaves you speechless and with some twinkle in your eyes, almost The Pale Blue Eyes.