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The Hollywood Insider Nightmare Alley Review

Photo: ‘Nightmare Alley’ 

Neo-noir films were extremely popular in the 1940s and 1950s, which was considered the classic period for noir films. If you’re not aware of what a noir film is, it basically is a film genre that is best described as a Hollywood crime drama that emphasizes selfish human behavior, which is also a great way to describe the plot of ‘Nightmare Alley.’ ‘Nightmare Alley’ releases December 17 and is best described as a neo-noir film that happens to be based on a novel by William Lindsay Gresham called ‘Nightmare Alley.’ This is not the first time the novel has been adapted for film, as it also was made into a movie in 1947, which was also called ‘Nightmare Alley.’

Based on the trailer itself, it is clear that this movie will be having you twisting and turning at the bizarreness of the character’s behaviors and the outcomes. The film is a complete reflection on human greed and selfishness and how, for the most part, it always catches up with us at some point if we’re not careful. ‘Nightmare Alley’ was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, who is also known for popular films such as ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.’ Guillermo del Toro has mentioned that he was gifted the novel at some point, and this ultimately led to his desire to adapt the film for the big screen.

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‘Nightmare Alley’ Premiere and Reactions

‘Nightmare Alley’

Guillermo del Toro is typically known for his supernatural-style films and projects, so this film will definitely be a change for him as it genuinely just focuses on the dark sides of society and human nature. As the holidays roll around, it is not too often that we see the releases of these types of films, but I also believe it couldn’t come at a better time. As mentioned before, ‘Nightmare Alley’ is a neo-noir, so it emphasizes cynical attitudes and behaviors. I think this film comes at a perfect time because the holidays are generally focused on giving and most definitely a lack of selfishness. This film is quite literally the complete opposite of this, which I think helps emphasize the overall darkness of the film.

Not only will the plot of ‘Nightmare Alley’ be dark, but the film itself will be dark as it is released amongst the cheer and joy of the holiday season. Overall, I am excited to watch the dark and twistedness of ‘Nightmare Alley’ and to watch the famous Guillermo del Toro take on a new genre of film. I am also excited to watch the cast, including Bradley Cooper, take on his role as the film’s main character, Stanton Carlisle. It will be interesting to watch Bradley Cooper take on this style of an acting role and also to see how his work as a director compliments his acting as well. 

Will the manipulator be manipulated?

As mentioned before, Bradley Cooper will be taking on the central character role for the film as Stanton Carlisle. It is Stanton Carlisle’s journey that we will watch run its course throughout the entirety of the movie with the compliments of the rest of the cast as well. Stanton Carlisle appears troubled or lacking in positive emotional wellbeing from the start, which ultimately just makes you want to buckle up and get ready for the ride that will be ‘Nightmare Alley.’ He joins a carnival where he is quick to make allies and realize the dark sides of the behind-the-scenes of some of the acts for the carnival.

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Stanton is an average guy with no real carnival talents but is quickly taken under the wing of Madame Zeena (Toni Collette) and her alcoholic husband Pete (David Strathairn). They go out of their way to teach Stanton Carlisle everything they know about cold reading or the skills that many mentalists and psychics hone to appear to be clairvoyant. Stanton Carlisle is quick to catch on with their training, and it becomes clear that he has become a master manipulator. He becomes attracted to Molly (Rooney Mara), another carnival performer that he works alongside. He proposes a two-person act that would be made up of Molly and himself, and before we know it, the two whisk away from the carnival and never look back. 

Next thing we know, Stanton and Molly have become highly successful among the Chicago wealthy elite with Stanton’s psychic act. While performing their act for some of the elite one night, they are almost fatally questioned about Stanton’s psychic abilities by a psychologist in attendance, Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett). Her attempt to debunk their act is a complete fail, though and somehow leads to Stanton being trusted as someone who can speak to the dead, which is widely popular among the wealthy elite of Chicago.

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The psychologist lures Stanton to her office with a proposal that they work together to manipulate the wealthy elite with this new act. Obviously, there are no spoilers here, but when considering the horrible things Stanton is now doing to people who are grieving, it seems impossible that it would not at some point fail. Will Molly turn on him, or will he be manipulated by the elite? Could the psychologist be the master manipulator herself? One thing is for sure I only touched on some of the small tidbits of the film as there is even more darkness and manipulation to come. Don’t forget to check out the film on December 17. 

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What’s Next 

Bradley Cooper will next be seen in ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,’ with Chris Pratt, directed by James Gunn. Cate Blanchett will next be seen in ‘Borderlands’ with Kevin Hart, directed by Eli Roth. Rooney Mara will next be seen in ‘Women Talking’ with Claire Foy, directed by Sarah Polley. David Strathairn will next be seen in ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ with Harris Dickinson, directed by Olivia Newman. Toni Collette will next be seen in ‘Pieces of Her’ with Jessica Barden. Guillermo del Toro’s next project will be ‘Pinocchio’ starring Tilda Swinton.

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, David Strathairn, Toni Collette

Director/Writer: Guillermo del Toro

By Chelsea Black 

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