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Nightmare Alley Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Bradley Cooper’s New Movie

Cate Blanchett looks seductively at Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley.
(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

The last time Guillermo del Toro directed a feature film it was The Shape of Water and it went on to be named Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And so, it would make a lot of sense to pay attention to del Toro’s next movie, the dark noir tale Nightmare Alley. Critics have now had a chance to see the new movie starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, and even more impressive stars, and while it’s not being reviewed quite as warmly as the last movie, this is still a film you’ll likely want to check out.

CinemaBlend’s Mike Reyes reviewed Nightmare Alley and he was a big fan of Guillermo del Toro’s journey into noir. He gave the film a perfect five star review, and lauded the impressive cast and the remarkable story with equal measure, saying... 

With a cast that’s stacked to the rafters with talent, and a story so twisty that you’ll be surprised by the clues lying right in front of your eyes, it’s easy to see why this movie has been saved as a theatrical experience.

But he’s not the only one who has fallen for Guillermo del Toro’s noir remake. THR is equally smitten with the film. It’s an incredibly dark story, practically the definition of noir, but it shines no less brightly for what it is able to accomplish... 

Nightmare Alley pays tribute to noir. But it’s also its own dark snow globe, luminous and finely faceted, and one of del Toro’s most fluent features.

Nightmare Alley is a remake of a 1947 film (itself based on a 1946 novel) and stars Bradley Cooper as a man who falls in with a traveling carnival, and falls in love with one of the performers while learning the ways of being a mentalist himself. Eventually he moves on to greener pastures, but in doing so his reach exceeds his grasp.

Most of the praise on the screen is going to the two main leads. Bradley Cooper is getting his share of praise for playing a character who is utterly unsympathetic, and yet, one we still follow all the way to the end. But Cate Blanchett, who plays a psychologist who joins forces with Cooper’s character, may be the true star, as Slashfilm says… 

As good as the first half of Nightmare Alley may be, it really comes to life when Lilith shows up, played by Cate Blanchett. Blanchett was born to be a femme fatale in a film noir, and del Toro knows it.

However, while Nightmare Alley may be a cautionary tale about the dangers of overgrown ambition, there are some critics who ultimately feel that the movie itself is actually that. The Playlist says the movie tries to do a lot, but succeeds at very little of it, explaining... 

Bloated at nearly 140 minutes with Cooper clearly miscast in the lead, it struggles to maintain urgency. Dreary and overly saturated with a CGI patina, this new take on Nightmare Alley adds more gore and f-bombs to the source material but ultimately remains emotionally inert and unclear exactly what it wants to say about these characters and the world they inhabit.

While certainly not all critics love the new movie, most do, and so it seems likely that audiences will finds something to appreciate here. Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley arrives in theaters December 17 

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.