Matt!’s review published on Letterboxd:
Kids, if ever you start to think “hey, maybe being a full-time writer could be a sustainable career”, just remember that even Edgar Allen Poe had to join the fuckin Army.
A dark, slow burn Scott Cooper period piece starring Christian Bale (hmmm, now where have I seen that before?), The Pale Blue Eye sees Bale’s grizzled old-timey detective investigating a potentially occult-related murder at 1800s West Point. Along the way, he’s joined by a quirky, eager young cadet with an affinity for mysteries by the name of Edgar…Allen…Poe. (Wooooaaahhhh) Harry Melling (yes, Dudley himself) stars as the squid-looking little poet, somehow so finicky that he makes Cumberbatch’s Sherlock seem like a guy you’d like to have a beer with.
The first half of this film is an actually haunting and somewhat compelling mystery, but the second half drags its feet heavily and has you checking your watch to find that there are still somehow 40 goddamn minutes left in the movie. On top of that, the resolution is rather unsatisfying, adding another unfortunate miss to Cooper’s resume.
The most redeeming quality of the film is, surprisingly, Melling, whose performance as Poe carries subtle heart amongst its bravado and erraticism, even though he does come off as an Incredi-Boy stand-in at times with his overeagerness.
Toby Jones and a shoehorned Robert Duvall are also present. Overall, this movie is a movie and it’s fine. A mid start to 2023.
P.S. feel free to play the classic game, “I know that guy, where do I know him from?”, being especially keen to look out for: that kid from White Lotus season 1, Ruth’s long-haired brother from Ozark, and that rat head motherfucker Peter freakin Pettigrew!