Until select elements of the final act come into focus, this is largely a tell-tale fail. Moody and mostly unfulfilling, Scott Cooper’s crime mystery The Pale Blue Eye (C) spends most of its 1830-set story exploring a pairing of a grizzled detective (Christian Bale) and a military cadet named Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling) who join forces to solve a series of gothic murders at a military academy. Both actors are distant and maudlin, a definite match for Cooper’s austere tone; and it’s a shame more isn’t made from the literary legend’s involvement. Howard Shore’s brassy score feels out of place against the deliberately paced proceedings. Lucy Boynton and Charlotte Gainsbourg don’t quite break through in underwritten roles, and the film squanders an ensemble of veteran actors Toby Jones, Gillian Anderson, Timothy Spall and Robert Duvall. Bale and Melling are too interesting a duo of actors to be this ho-hum. This film gets bogged down in its brand of bleak midwinter and doesn’t quite clue in on how to break through.