We round up the reviews for Guillermo del Toro’s latest film based on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel.
The Guardian: **** “This film has a horribly ingenious premise and there is something chilling in the central concept: Stan’s mind-reading spiritualist routine, though deeply dishonest, is in fact founded on a set of truths about human nature which are revealed to the seedy huckster but not to the educated person who might affect to despise the showman’s preposterous act.”
The Observer: ***** “Del Toro and co-writer Kim Morgan cast their inspirational net wide, drawing on everything from William Wellman’s brutal Depression-era fable Heroes for Sale to Otto Preminger’s Fallen Angel, which provided visual inspiration via its artifice-laden sets and Hopper-esque, painterly lighting. Significantly they also looked to Antonioni’s quietly despairing 1957 neorealist work Il grido“
The Independent: ***** “Nightmare Alley’s script, which del Toro co-wrote with screenwriter and film historian Kim Morgan (the pair married last year), alters a few things about Gresham’s story. But it’s hard to think of a noir story that would be better suited to del Toro as a director – the arch-fabulist who fears men more than he does monsters.”
The Times: ** “Production designer Tamara Deverell (Crash, Mimic) has excelled herself with the lavish sets she has constructed for this stylish noir from the director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water). You’ll spend much of the movie drooling over the penthouse suite where psychologist Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) practises, or marvelling at the art deco hotel room of hero and celebrity mentalist Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper).”
NME: ***** “Turning a weird, little fairground sideshow into a main stage, grand gala with an all-star cast, del Toro’s version is overwrought, overwritten and overlong. It’s also a masterpiece, and his best film for years.”
The Telegraph: ** “For the first time in Del Toro’s career, his latest – a remake of an especially seamy 1947 noir – is a film with nothing new to say.”
Time Out: *** “But there’s no one in the middle of all this to ride along with and no sense of moral conflict – of bad decisions made reluctantly because there are no better options on the table. Those are the ingredients that elevate the best noirs because they speak directly to their audiences’ darker, grasping ids. Here, you find yourself relishing Carlisle’s slide into the abyss a little too readily.”
Nightmare Alley is in cinemas now.