Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I hate to give a Guillermo Del Toro picture only 3 stars, but this just didn't do it for me. It may be a bad thing that I saw the original film a couple months prior, as it was a film that still hasn't left my mind. I even bought the criterion during the November sale!

I think this screenplay handled the source material much clumsily than the 1947 film. Granted I haven't read the novel, but there was a lot of heavy handed dialogue, that the original was able to accomplish purely through its visuals. I think del Toro could have held back on these moments, particularly in how he staged key scenes as big conversations instead of after the fact realizations the viewer makes on their own (the two biggest being the danger Pete warns Stan about in doing the act, and the reveal that Lilith has cheated and conned Stan out of his money). My major complaints do have mostly to do with the screenplay, but I also did not feel enough chemistry between Mara and Cooper, or even between Blanchett and Cooper (though Cate's chemistry with just being on screen is always present).

High points are definitely production and costume design, and Blanchett and Willem Dafoe's performances. They were excellent scenery chewers, and Blanchett's micro-expressions were particularly exhilarating. Additionally, I will never say no to a wild Mary Steenburgen cameo. Especially one like THAT. Overall tho, I'll revisit the original more often. This one may have a more accurate to the book ending, but I prefer the bittersweet ending of the 1947. It's almost harsher and less obvious!

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