'The Pale Blue Eye' Will Reunite Christian Bale with Director Scott Cooper

Christian Bale and Scott Cooper are about to go for the hat trick together.

A new report says the star and director are set to unite for the third time, after previously working on the films Out of the Furnace and Hostiles. Their latest collaboration? A film adaptation of Louis Bayard’s 2007 book The Pale Blue Eye, a murder mystery about a detective who is brought in to solve a baffling murder at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. And in a fascinating twist, the detective is partnered up with a famous figure from literary history.

Deadline reports that Bale will produce and star in The Pale Blue Eye, which has Cooper on board to direct and write the script. Here’s the description of Bayard’s novel:

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The strange and haunted Southern poet for whom Landor develops a fatherly affection, is named Edgar Allan Poe.

The “mysterious murder” element feels very much in line with Cooper’s sensibilities to me, but the inclusion of a young Edgar Allan Poe seems – at least from the outside looking in – like the type of winky, “nudge nudge,” reference-heavy cuteness that Cooper has so far avoided in his career. I’m genuinely thrown by his decision to adapt this particular story, and a little surprised that Bale – who isn’t exactly known as a playful performer who would be into this sort of thing – would jump on board. My guess is that this film will be a toned-down version of what many other filmmakers might do with this material – I don’t expect Young Poe to be startled by a raven flying by, for example.

“This is my attempt at a large-canvas whodunit, with a serial killer at its center,” Cooper told Deadline. “I want to make films that push me into a different, maybe uncomfortable space, but I am glad to have Christian go there with me. I’ve wanted to make this for over a decade and fortunately for me, Christian has perfectly aged into the lead character.”

Filming is set to begin sometime this fall.

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