This will be a spoiler-free review. I don’t want you to miss out on the story of this movie. I loved everything about Nightmare Alley from start to finish.
I am an overall fan of Guillermo del Toro. I love things like Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II, but I’m not so much of a fan of Pacific Rim or Crimson Peak, even though it’s got future Mrs. NGL in it.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of The Shape of Water. I just didn’t get it. I have only seen it once, so maybe I need to try it again.
I am a fan of The Mentalist series with Simon Baker. I’ve always been interested in body language, people who can “read” someone, I think it’s fascinating. I’m also fan of a good con-man story. The British TV series Hustle was great fun.
Del Toro’s newest movie, Nightmare Alley is a remake of a movie made in 1947 with Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell. I say a remake, I had to look up the original and they both have the same story. I haven’t seen the original, but now I would like to.
This new version has a great cast. Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willam Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, and Holt McCallany to name a few. The entire cast are excellent. I mean really, really good. I think it’s the best I’ve seen each of them.
The plot of the movie is described as:
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.
In a nutshell, and without spoilers, we open with Stanton Carlisle (Cooper) as he leaves a body in a house that he sets fire to. He is obviously off to make a new life and a new career. He stumbles across a traveling circus complete with sideshow freaks and other oddities.
The first act is a long one, but sets up Carlisle so well as he learns the tricks of the trade and becomes a mentalist, the mind reader of the show. That’s all the detail I will go into. The second and third acts are just fantastic. There is so much I want to say, but I will keep it simple and let you find the story yourself.
What I got as the message from the movie may be completely different for you. What I can say is that it is something I will turn over in my mind for a good while. This is a movie that will sit with you and will make you think time and time again. I think there are several different messages in here that different people will take away.
I loved that the movie was simple. No fancy CGI and no extravagant camera movements flying all over the place. It was very much a film noir full of beautiful lighting and photography with a focus on the story rather than the technical wonders of modern Hollywood.
It was also nice to see an original IP. I know I said it was a remake, but I wouldn’t guess many people have seen or remember, the original. What you have here though is a well-thought-out story, attention to detail, and an ending that is very satisfying.
I give Nightmare Alley a full 5 out of 5. I haven’t seen anything this good in a while. A simple movie with a slow pace, but keeps you hooked as it goes on. It may be a little slow for some, but it’s so worth getting to the end of it. One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in a while.
Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Try and keep the comments as spoiler-free as possible.