Nightmare Alley (2021)

Quick Reviews/Favorite Films

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Written by Guillermo del Toro & Kim Morgan

Based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham

Starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr., Jim Beaver, & Tim Blake Nelson

Release Date: December 17, 2021

Running Time: 2hr 30min

Rating: R

Stan Carlisle (Cooper), is an ambitious carny, who hooks up with a corrupt psychiatrist, Dr. Lilith Ritter (Blanchett), who proves to be as dangerous as he is.

The film has received generally positive reviews with critics praising del Toro’s direction, visual style, cinematography, musical score, costume design, production design, and the performances of Cooper and Blanchett, with criticism for the runtime. It was named one of the best films of 2021 by the National Board of Review and American Film Institute. It also received eight nominations at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Del Toro.

I’m always up for a Guillermo del Toro film, and I’ve seen everything he’s made in theaters since Hellboy (2004). Once again he hasn’t disappointed me! Like any of his projects, the film is visually stunning, even gruesome scenes are beautifully shot. The trailer made things look supernatural (as most of del Toro’s films are), but this is a noir psychological thriller, no supernatural elements. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a damn good film, quite the contrary!

This film oozes with atmosphere and personality. There’s so much to look at, so much great detail in pretty much every scene. All the performances are fantastic, especially from Cooper and Blanchett. Cooper plays Carlisle with such ease when going from naive to manipulative, you’re never quite sure if you should feel bad for him or not. Blanchett is a ferocious femme fatale, she’s proven herself time and again to be one of the greatest performers of this or any generation.

If you’re already a die hard del Toro fan like me, I doubt I’ll have to do much convincing to see this movie. If you love noir and period films you should definitely see this movie. If you love movies you should see this movie!

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