Nightmare Alley Poster

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Action | Crime | Drama
Rayting:   7.8/10 151 votes
Country: USA | Mexico
Language: English
Release date: January 20, 2022

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.

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

naninyap 2 December 2021

A great character study about how the feeling of having power can lead to delusions of grandeur.

It was satisfying to see everything come full circle and how tragic this story plays out.

jamesreilman 3 December 2021

The film's direction and performances are really strong. I was impressed by every performance and individual character and the overall plot was tight. A dark film-noir-ish movie centered around a 1930s carnival has a strong premise and initial material it's based on (book and film). It's overall dark and leaves a strong impression.

I thought Bradley Cooper at times reminded me of a Humphrey Bogart character, Cate Blanchett was phenomenal and powerful, and Rooney Mara was also strong, self-sufficient, and alluring at the same time. Beautiful progression leading to a strong pay-off and resolution.

gregorymannpress-74762 1 December 2021

"Nightmare Alley"

When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena Krumbein (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York Society. With the virtuous Molly Cahill (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins), a dangerous tycoon, with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet.

"Nightmare Alley" journeys into the most arrestingly dark, sweeping and realistic world; the cinematic world of film noir. The film moves from the inner circle of a 1930s traveling carnival, a realm of shocks and wonders, to the halls of wealth and power where seduction and treachery reside. At it's core lies a man who sells his soul to the art of the con. Stanton Carlisle begins as a literal nobody, a man who has ditched a scarred past, and is so desperate to separate himself from his origins that he decides to join a passing carnival and become a member of a world unto itself. Here, no questions are asked, and no one cares who you were before, as long as you pitch in right now. Stanton's rise through the ranks of the carnival troupe continues onto the higher echelons of American society all against the background of the great depression in America. The carnival is an incredibly close-knit, hermetic society. It's a place where people keep their secrets, and many are escaping a life of crime or a past they've to leave behind. And yet, they form a strong society. It's almost like a microcosm of the world. Everybody's there to swindle everybody. But at the same time, they know they need each other, and they protect one another. The carnival geeks are usually opium junkies or alcoholics deprived of their fix, willing to do anything to avoid withdrawal. In the carnival hierarchy, the geek is the lowest in their societal pecking order, reviled and pitied even by carnies. Pulled from dark alleys in the dead of night, the geek is everything Stanton fears about himself.

He's a man who's given all the elements to change his life. He has people who believe in him, who love him and trust him. Yet his drive and his own hubris are so strong that they turn him away from that. It's the story of a man hoisted onto his own karma. This is Stanton Carlisle, a drifting hustler who transforms himself into a dazzling showman and manipulator so masterful he comes to believe he can outwit fate. Once he learns how profitable delusion and deception can be, Stanton never turns back. Within "Nightmare Alley", there are seething layers of corruption, vice, lust, betrayal, and cosmic absurdity that build as Stanton learns to cynically prey on the human need to believe in something outside themselves and our world. The film avoids the trademark visual aspects of noir, keeping the story speeding forwards, as Stanton's life becomes a harrowing circle. He's now a broken man who has learned to lie to get the reactions he wants from people. As Stanton's skills increase and he becomes a consummate performer, the carnival world gives way to a city realm far shinier and glitzier on the surface but seething with anxieties underneath. Stanton is a character of devastating darkness. He's a mercurial character, who transforms according to circumstances. A

garethvk 2 December 2021

Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper); is a man trying to get by in late 1930s America in the new film "Nightmare Alley". Our first introduction to Stanton is less than flattering and he soon finds himself employed at a Carnival after coming upon it by chance.

The eager Stanton is given advice and tools of the trade by his boss Clem (Willem Dafoe) as well as the mystic Zeena (Toni Collette) and Stanton eagerly wants to get ahead. While striking a friendship with fellow employee Molly (Rooney Mara); Stanton learns that Zeena's older and alcoholic husband has a skill from a former act where he learns to read people and use verbal cues to appear to have the power of clairvoyance.

Eventually, Stanton seeks bigger opportunities and leaves with Molly for the city where they in time develop a successful act that offers them two shows a night at a fancy hotel and some of the finer things in life.

Unwilling to be content with what he has; Stanton becomes involved with a Psychologist named Lilith (Cate Blanchett) and uses her knowledge to set up higher-profile marks who will pay well for his supposed abilities and in doing so; sets a dangerous chain of events into motion.

The film is based on the 1946 book of the same name and an earlier 1947 film, and while it does an amazing job with the visuals and moody atmosphere of the era; it is a very long and slowly-paced film. The movie is over 2.5 hours long and comes across as overly long and self-indulgent as Director Guillermo del Toro could easily have shaved 30-45 minutes from the film and told the story without losing much.

The cast and performances are very good but a slow-paced and dour film is not an ideal way to spend 2.5 hours at the movies no matter how much it has going for it. The movie does have some good points but I think it will do much better on streaming and home video where audiences can pause and take a break.

If you are a fan of the Noir style of old; then this may be just what you are looking for, but I think it should have been so much more.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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