Nightmare Alley

I’m struggling with a review for the new Guillermo Del Toro movie, Nightmare Alley. This is a film that, to me, is as much of a tweener as any movie I have seen recently.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (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 (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet

While I found the setting of the traveling carnival to be extremely awesome, I found myself bored for much of the first part of the film. Some of the mentalist tricks and strategies were cool to hear about and see in action, but I feel as if there were too much for the film.

Bradley Cooper is very engaging as Stanton Carlisle, being both someone who you could root for but also someone who is simply a horrible manipulative person. Cooper brought a lot of depth to the role. He has chemistry with most of the characters. There is a deep seeded daddy issues with Stanton that is coloring his choices.

I was more interested in the film later on when they were dealing with Richard Jenkins and the attempt to gaslight him over the death of his love. Watching Bradley Cooper continuing to descend into his pain and his bad behaviors was great.

There is a lot of style to this movie. It had great design and a tremendous look to it. Much like other Guillermo Del Toro films.

I did find myself checking the time within the first hour or so. To me, the second half of the film had a better pace to it.

In the end, this film has a lot of problems for me. It was up and down throughout and it left me uncertain about how I feel about it. It looked good and had some solid performances, but there are problems with pacing and could have been edited down more.

2.95 stars

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