The start of 2023 is here! With it being the new year already, movies have already begun coming out. The first week of the new year and we have a couple movies started to roll out. A fresh start of the year and we seem to have a very promising lineup of movies for 2023. The very first release we see in that lineup, comes from none other than Netflix. Starting the new year, we have The Pale Blue Eye, starring Christian Bale (Batman Begins) and Harry Melling (Harry Potter). Following Christian Bale, as detective Augustus Landor, he crosses paths with a cadet to help him solve a crime. The cadet is no ordinary cadet, but not yet famous Edgar Allen Poe himself. They team up together to solve a case of mysterious murders at an academy. A time period piece that holds true by being authentic, while also taking some liberties of doing some new and different elements. With some twist and turns, The Pale Blue Eye, held my attention and gained my curiosity. Christian Bale knows how to put on a great performance and I can easily say the same about Harry Melling. From the very start, they make a great duo and the story is compelling enough to muster up a solid flick. The Pale Blue Eye is a mysterious whodunit, that places you right into the investigation. Entertaining enough to be an enjoyable watch, but doesn’t leave a lasting impact. It’s fun, but not great. The necessary film for what seems to help ramp up the rest of the releases of the year. This movie served its purpose and gave a cool gothic mystery. With many secrets and mysterious being revealed, the movie will leave audiences fully satisfied.
The director, Scott Cooper, has worked with Christian Bale in the past. Specifically the movie, Out of The Furnace. He continues to have a great relationship with the actor in this film and it the tone is almost identical. A slow steady story that is character driven. He directs the movie in a way that we follow the perspective of the case through Augustus’ eyes. Although the familiar character is Edgar Allen Poe the direction of the movie follows this less known character. I think this was the best approach for the movie. This being a very character driven movie, the film relies on the performances by the two actors. Happy to say that this works perfectly. The audiences who watch the film, as well as the characters in the movie, are left without some inside knowledge. Jumping back and forth between the two characters, we see two different perspectives of the story being told. Although we follow Bale’s character for the most part, the audience should really be paying attention to Melling’s character just as close. The dialogue is elegant and proper, very much of those times. The rich conversations are what really drive the storytelling. At times, the movie did experience pacing issues when some of the side characters got involved. There are some unnecessary subplots that don't really lead anywhere. The look and feel of the movie, however, really made the movie come to life. There's some really cool shots in the forrest, in the houses and even when the action scenes kicked in. Dark shadows in the forrest made for a very eerie and intense scenery. Costume and set design were perfect aesthetic of the times as well. This is something that is important when creating the world around the story. There was always a sense of elegance, yet dread at every corner. No one felt safe and you fall into the rabbit hole of this world.
Stories told in period pieces are hit or miss with myself. I prefer movies that take place in modern times, simply because I can connect on them, on more of a personal level. There are however some period pieces that hook me in. With my preferences, the movie had to win me over and it did. The story and enjoyment I got from the movie hooked me from the very beginning. Again, this is mainly because of the acting within the movie. The characters are dynamic and have multiple layers to them. They have enough backstory on both main characters, that you truly begin to understand who they are and what they have been through. The decisions they made in the story makes sense. With well balanced characters and a good twist, you then have a solid movie. Is it groundbreaking? No, but it does make you feel like you did not waste your time, which is equally important. The story is great and I think a lot of people will appreciate it. Smart movies that are well done, such as this one, make me happy. People who love this era and gothic mysteries, will really enjoy the heck out of this movie especially. Each time there was a new twist, I was genuinely surprised. I went into the movie completely blind and didn’t watch any trailers. I think that this is the best approach when watching this movie. It is a bit of a slow burn and takes awhile to get going, but the destination is worth the wait.
The month of January seems to be the time where movies that aren't the best, comes out. It is the unspoken curse of the calendar year. Most often then not, I would agree. We have seen many stinkers around the month of January in the last decade. This might be the year where this curse is broken. 2023 in my opinion has started very strong with this movie. It has a lot too enjoy and some really great performances. Christian Bale has always been an amazing actor and continues to show that, The big highlight has to go to Harry Melling. He has come such a long way in his career. Coming from a franchise such as Harry Potter for so many years, it can be hard to be recognized by any other role. He is an actor that has a lot to give and I highly recommend following what he does next. Scott Cooper did a really great job at making this period piece with such a great story. Although there were some problems with the movie, I left watching it very satisfied. I liked all the different directions the movie went story wise and the risks it took. You can say that I’m very excited for 2023! This is an easy watch since it’s streaming on Netflix. I think a lot of people will have fun with this one. Make sure to check this one out!
Total Score: 76/100
Written By: Frederick Nuti