Movie Reviews

Published on December 2nd, 2021 | by gareth


Nightmare Alley Is Great Visually But Suffers From Slow Pacing And A Long Run Time

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


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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