Nightmare Alley – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Nightmare Alley – A Circus of Lies: Film Noir Magic

To speak is to say, but what is to say when the obvious is said?  In the twist of connections, moments abound to strike riveting journeys for the unimagined.  Within that thought, what weaves through an up and down affair is the question … is there worth?  In this review, I look at the latest from Guillermo del Toro.  Changing up his typical horror/gothic format for film noir, he creates a film that is a cunning but familiar tale.  Even with heavy telegraphed moments, Nightmare Alley is a character story that showcase a person’s worth within truth and lies.   

The story follows Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a man looking for a place to be.  Through his own manipulated ways, it leads down a path where pride become his inevitable scar.  The foundation (of this film) is built around the aspects of a film noir.  This type of storytelling uses cynic elements to layer its characters within a particular journey.  In the beginning, you are thrust into this world through a quick look at Carlisle’s past.  After some convenient narrative choices, Carlisle finds himself working for a traveling circus.  Going through the first half, each scene is grounded through general conversation between Carlisle and the performers.  Through their interactions, you get a buildup of a genuine theme of survival.  As you continue to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the performances, it begins to shine a light on human fragility.  Through conversational exposition and colorful dialogue, you begin to ‘see and hear’ a brooding atmosphere against a meandering narrative.  There is no core aspect of place or purpose, but the conditional analysis of folly and choice.  This continues down a path that weaves irony within the ominous trails (of what’s to come).  As each relationship begins to fracture, the crossroads helps deepen the purpose of Carlisle’s own motives.  This leads to certain choices that drives into the second half of the film.

In the second half, we find Carlisle living a life of fame through manipulation.  Using tools of a magical act, it opens a doorway into a different world.  Blending conversations within unique scenes, Carlisle believes he can turn skills into fortune.  That cynical aspect (of the genre) kicks in, providing levity within prideful behaviors of uncertainty.  Through blind decisions, Carlisle’s choices lead to some fateful consequences and heavy foreshadowing.  Trying to find a way out, this leads to a climax of his inevitable demise, assuring certainty to life’s truth and lies.  Nightmare Alley is a film noir that showcase strength of characters in familiar themes.  If you are a fan of the actors/actresses, director or like dramatic stories, this is one for you.  For anyone else, a fun time at the theaters for the right price.      

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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