So this was a film on which Indid have my eyes on for quite sometime now. A film which had slipped under the radar after having released with Spiderman No Way Home but comprising of a stellar cast including one of my favourites Bradley Cooper, it finally released on VOD. The word of mouth has generally been good even from folks on the cinephile group on facebook. Finally, I got a chance to watch the English film Nightmare Alley, is it worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
A remake of a 1947 film by the same name, Nightmare Alley follows the story of a carny who is known to manipulate people meets a psychiatrist who is more conniving that he had ever imagined. After a long time, I came across a film whose story was rather unassuming so much so that it took me a while to settle in. The screenplay is a slow burner but a piece of writing which requires your undivided attention. The biggest of events are passed off here in the most subtle and unassuming manner. After a chilling opening scene, the drama takes time to buildup as you are transported into the era of the 1940s. So you are introduced to some interesting characters including the protagonist who you would instantly notice as someone having grey shades. As the drama trots forward, a massive twist in the tale changes fortunes for the protagonist. But as they say – what goes around comes around. The subtle yet terrific twists in this slow burner are enough to keep you invested but mind you – you need to be patient with this drama. There are rewards to be had as the drama progresses. While most of the drama is conversational, the drama switches gears in the final 40 minutes with a string of events leading upto a final act which is utmost satisfying. The dark humour is sprinkled throughout the narrative making the screenplay subtly brilliant.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational yet you need to stay attentive to understand the nuances in the layered drama as each layer is peeled off slowly. The BGM is subtle yet impactful. The camerawork is exquisite and it really captures the era of the 40s pretty well. The production design including an interesting colour graphing adds weight to so many scenes making this a terrific watch. Director Guillermo del Toro has really upped his game here. He delivers the most unassuming drama with a lot of subtlety which works in the film’s favour.
The performances are outstanding here. Rooney Mara as Molly looks pretty and does a fabulous job. She reeks of innocence which was refreshing in an otherwise dark film. Richard Jenkins as Ezra Grindle is first rate. Toni Collete as Zeena has her moments to shine as does Willian Dafoe. Cate Blanchett as Dr. Lilith is brilliant as the conniving psychiatrist and she delivers a layered performance. But it is Bradley Cooper as Stan who delivers yet another staggering act. The final 10 minutes just showcase what an acting masterclass this truly is. He may as well win atleast an Oscar Nomination this year for his outstanding act.
Nightmare Alley might be niche but it is unassumingly brilliant and well worth your time! Highly Recommended!