“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.” – IMDB
It may be a niche interest, but I have yet to watch a movie set at an early 20th-century carnival that I didn’t like. Yet, there must be others like me, because some of the greatest directors of our time continually return to this setting. In the case of Nightmare Alley, the legendary Guillermo Del Toro takes his turn. Before any dialogue is uttered, the audience already knows that we’re in for a moody, utterly creepy time. Let me clarify…
This film follows Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a down-on-his-luck carny whose firey ambition bubbles just beneath the surface of his handsome face. Stanton quickly climbs through the ranks of a local carnival until it has fulfilled its use to him and he sets his sights on loftier ambitions. However, will Stanton’s ambitions get the better of him? Well, I won’t spoil that for you…
What I particularly enjoyed about this film is that it upsets expectations. With such a famous director at the helm, it is easy to project certain expectations onto this film. I believe Del Toro knew this and chose to use those expectations to his advantage, thus keeping the audience on their toes throughout the majority of the movie.
The movie is also exceptionally cast, with famous and talented faces around every corner, even in relatively small roles. This helps keep you engrossed in the plot, instead of focusing on any one actor not pulling their weight. Every role was exceptionally filled and it lifted the movie to even greater heights of suspense and thrill.
I will say that the last half hour or so became a bit easier to predict than the rest of film; however, that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch. Del Toro delivers a solid ending that closes out the narrative in a fantastic, if not horrific way.
Overall, this movie was one hell of a ride and is a movie that I expect to watch over and over again and only enjoy more with time. I highly recommend!
Rating: 8 out 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also watch: Nocturnal Animals, Mulholland Drive
With: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro