Nightmare Alley: much like in most film noir, Guillermo del Toro is interested in taking a look at the dark side of the human soul. The solid and entertaining story has a protagonist who is, at the very least, a competent con man; even the ingénue is a grifter, and most characters are clearly much worse. This is a great cast, operating at a very high level; starting with Bradley Cooper as the protagonist, a man whose secrets are as oversized as his ambitions, and Rooney Mara, as the young woman who falls for him. Willem Dafoe is quite sinister as the boss carny. The film, in any case, belongs to Cate Blanchett, the in-house femme fatale, classy and as tough as they come. It looks great, too, with the director of photography Dan Laustsen’s classic work giving some color to the high contrast as he captures the detailed, beautiful work of production designer Tamara Deverell and costume designer Luis Sequeira.
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