By Sebastian Grace 
“The Pale Blue Eye” was written and directed by Scott Cooper, its plot adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard. The film features a mightily impressive cast that includes the likes of Christian Bale, Gillian Anderson, Toby Jones and Timothy Spall. The story focuses on veteran detective Augustus Landor (such a brilliant name) as he investigates a series of murders at the United States Military Academy West Point with the aid of Edgar Allan Poe, a young military cadet, played by Henry Melling (pictured above). 
Jeanette Catsoulis, a film reviewer for the New York Times, ends her delectable review with a hilarious and irreverent paragraph about the role of headwear in the film (elaborate wigs and astute top hats): “Despite an impressively bleak and nifty twist, “The Pale Blue Eye” (the title comes from Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”) is perhaps best enjoyed as a hat drama. Cadets teeter beneath helmets resembling giant coal scuttles, while their superiors barely prevent their ornate headgear from succumbing to gravity. (The ladies’ wigs, being scarcely less onerous to hold aloft, also qualify.) The real mystery here is how any of the actors made it through the movie without resorting to a neck brace.” 
Catsoulis’ identification of a seemingly benign element of Netflix’s recent historical drama blockbuster hints at her wider attitude towards the film. She describes it as “lavishly appointed” but “stodgy as Christmas pudding,” critiquing the elements of bizarre in each character that I had so enjoyed. If you are intrigued by a film in which “madness and hysteria roil,” you will too. 
The genre defying horror/mystery combination, set in a wintry 19th century New York state that was perpetually dark and richly mysterious, was a real treat one Sunday evening. I’d recommend it, even if Catsoulis doesn’t. Just promise me you’ll only read her excellent piece afterwards, and make your own mind up first. 
I will soon be publishing my own review piece on this blog . Stay tuned! 
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