Title: Nightmare Alley

Year: 2021

Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller |

Runtime: 150 min

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara


An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. 


The imagination of the grim tortured life of dark noir in the bleak 1940s meets its own fate in Guillermo Del Toro’s latest instalments of grey demising and a thoughtful tale of the carnivals exploiting familiar greed, and despair known to be loved. Nightmare Alley offers a new side of the charming yet insightful auteur whose craftsmanship often bestows vilely mythical creatures in red and blue.

A sign of an imaginary story is shared in-between the actors who deliver a flawless impression in the takes and elevate the other scenes even when the plot escalates and becomes a cheaper melodrama, cheating the story’s premise. As it’s followed by the travelling carnival feeding the audiences with a bleak mystery, it reminds us of a different past that few want to recon in the daylight. As the story goes point on from being a man who wants to find his glorified self, he erupts instead on a self-destructive path that led him to diminish fate.

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It gets nuanced once the scenes exchanges between Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett rivet the story and cuts the whole deeper far more than before. Its ludicrous setting creates the mystic environment and recollects a similar third act of greed and desperation just like the one that appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, where a distance from the worldview was not possible.

In the films, many characters hold the fort for some time and as time goes by, it’s sort of separates the first part from the beginning. It drives the story certainly forward, but it goes still deeper to the despair in the deepest of the rabbit hole. Although the story, might come off pretentious it works for a man who tries to desperately prove himself only to destroy the very image of who he is, losing the proper way around him.

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Bradley Cooper makes a heartless effort and Cate Blanchett is an appreciated addition to an already full cast of established performers such as Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins and Rooney Mara. Mara does play the lover of Cooper and gets her all when it’s gone down from it all.

As Guillermo Del Toro tries to keep the mystical noir attention in between the first and third act, it cuts the pace a little too much to be fair and the story becomes staggering. It’s first when the action ramps up a bit, it becomes sensible again. It’s a story that depicts a man’s hunger for success and his downfall, and Guillermo Del Toro’s new tale tries to capture the tensive emotion behind it, but the story corners itself like a wounded animal when not knowing to look forward.

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