Nightmare Alley Review

Nightmare Alley Review: A Riveting Neo-Noir Psychological Thriller

Step right up and get ready to witness Nightmare Alley, a neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Guillermo del Toro. This film follows Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a mentalist performing in a carnival who hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. This is del Toro’s first movie fresh off of his Best Picture win for The Shape of Water. As he is one of the most talented directors of our time, we have another potential classic on our hands as he has made an excellent movie with impeccable craftsmanship.

The film’s storytelling is fascinating to behold. The movie is incredibly unique in its feel, and at times, it can feel like the film is taking a while to get going. However, a little bit of patience has never paid off so well with a movie that’s so marvelously helmed. There are scenes in this movie where the dialogue is captivating, with each word feeling perfect. In addition, nearly every scene of the film is riveting to the eyes and the ears. While the film could have had a more precise focus due to the number of storylines coinciding, the ultimate experience is like no other.

Every character in the movie is intriguing. The protagonist, Stan, is fascinating to watch as he goes down incredible paths, making choices that are hard to agree with. The journey his character takes is very compelling, as well as his relationship with Molly Cahill (Rooney Mara). Dr. Lillith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) is introduced to the film in the second act as a character who opposes Stan, and the way she is used throughout the story is perfect. They all have unique motives, and del Toro knows where to take each character and maximize their potential.

The people in this movie are brought to life by the incredible actors on the screen. None of the performances in this movie feel like they’re acting; everything feels authentic, and there isn’t a single weak link. Cooper has proven himself to be a remarkable actor in the past few years, and yet, somehow, this may be the best performance of his career. Mara and Toni Collette are both excellent in their roles, and Blanchett blesses the screen with all of her grace in every scene she is in. Despite his limited screen time, Willem Dafoe’s performance as Clem Hoatley, the carnival owner, is mesmerizing. Everyone has an enchanting screen presence that works wonders for the film.

We also have breathtakingly beautiful cinematography on display with show-stopping visuals. You can see the work del Toro put into crafting every frame of the film, and the snowy landscapes, in particular, look magical. In addition, the movie has the best production design of the year and an ending that will have you gripping the edge of your seat. It’s intense, emotional, and a perfect way to end a story that del Toro translates masterfully from the page to the screen.

SCORE: 7/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.


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