Spoilers will read your fortune for a dollar.
I’m considering going on a review streak on films directed by Guillermo del Toro. His style seems to be consistently suitable for adult fairy tales, and this one is built on the same trend. It’s a very stylistic thriller, with some horror elements. It feels like it could to turn into a horror film any moment, and for a while I expected it would. It’s a rather solid film, although I do have a few things to point out. We’ll keep the magic tricks under wraps. You might want to consider watching this one before reading ahead.
Nightmare Alley (2021) was directed by Guillermo del Toro who also wrote the screenplay with Kim Morgan, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham. Drifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) joins a carnival, making a new life for himself learning the ropes. That’s as much as I want to tell you going in, because discovering where the movie is going is most of the fun. Bradley Cooper does a great role and his character is extremely engaging, but he’s got competition. This is superbly casted.
Along the road we’ll meet Clem (Willem Dafoe), Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette), Molly (Rooney Mara) and Bruno (Ron Pearlman) before we change locations. This is where I felt a little slighted, as the story departs from its original setting and we lose touch with a lot of characters. Fortunately it doesn’t take long until we meet Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), who is perhaps the most dangerous person that Stan has ever met, and yet despite being out of his depth he believes he’s in control of their dynamic.
It’s a great story, and although there’s a few twists along the way, you can see early on where Stan’s path is headed. The storytelling is still good, but with so much talent I really enjoyed so much more the carnival setting and felt invested with the ensemble cast there. It was a letdown having to focus only on a few characters. The outcome is predictable, but well executed. The story is dark, and I won’t give away the ending but as fitting as it is, I can’t help but wanting to know how everyone else’s stories turned out.
Highly recommended with reservations. Excellent storytelling, engaging characters and solid performances really make this film superb. Actually with all the cast talent, it does feel cheated to when the film changes settings and focuses on a few. There’s also some details at the beginning that hint a little obviously at Stan’s fate, but getting there is still interesting. Definitely worth a watch.
That will do for now.