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Movies I Recommend: Nightmare Alley (2021)

Camillia has BA in University Studies with a minor in English. Has enjoyed writing reviews since her sci fi/fantasy class in high school.

Nightmare Alley (2021)


People who are made to be on display for their abnormality. Those who are drunk and poor are made to look like animals

The Carnival

The carnival plays a huge role within the story as Staton Carlisle starts and ends his journey at the carnival. Instead of being entertaining, the carnival is full of people who either have a deformity or are con artists. People who are made to be on display for their abnormality. Those who are drunk and poor are made to look like animals. A drunk man is made to look like a monster while the audience watches him suck his teeth in a live chicken. This abuse from the carnival seems to be normal as people pay to see the abuse. Staton comes to the carnival to work and finds that he wants to learn "magic." He meets a couple who cons people with their magic act named Zeena and Pete. Staton becomes enthralled and wants to learn the tricks of the trade.


Staton Carlisle

Bradley Cooper does a good job at playing Staton in this movie. It is really easy to hate Staton as he both cons, lies and cheats his way through life. At the beginning of the film, the audience is left wondering if Staton did something horrible. The first scene in the film is really telling of what type of character Staton is going to be throughout the film. Staton goes to the carnival and finds another way to con people out of money through "magic." He then goes to the city to use this magic and finds himself meeting a psychiatrist who he uses to get more money. In the end, Staton gets what he deserves and then some.


It is really easy to hate Staton as he both cons, lies and cheats his way through life.

The Women

Stanton's relationship with Zeena the Seer, Rooney Mara, and Dr. Lillith Reeter all play a role in the ultimate demise of Stanton.

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Zeena seduced Stanton even though she was in a relationship with Pete. Stanton let her seduce him even though he could have objected to it. This seduction was the start of Stanton realizing how easy it is for him to control women.

Stanton fell in love with Rooney but this love was not enough in the end. The relationship between Stanton and Rooney seems both controlling and abusive. Stanton takes Rooney away from the carnival away from her friends and family and completely isolates her. Even though Stanton ends up having eyes for another woman, he still leads Rooney on. After a traumatic event, Rooney finally left Stanton.

Stanton seems to have control of Dr. Lillith Ritter as he uses her knowledge to his advantage in scheming people. Lillith and Stanton seem to be perfect for each other as they con themselves thousands and thousands of dollars. The problem is that Lillith ends up conning Stanton the whole time and he does not expect it.


Overall Impression

Nightmare Alley(2021) is definitely a standout movie with a good plot, well-thought-out characters, and an interesting setting that is the carnival. I would say that the 1948 version is a classic and the 2021 version is another rendition of the beloved book. Bradley Cooper does a great job playing Santon who is a con artist and the cast overall did an amazing job at playing characters that were set in the 1940s. The film's cinematography and fashion are both a delight for the eyes. Would recommend it for those who enjoy thrillers, crime documentaries, and mystery novels. It is rated R for intense scenes, strong bloody violence, some sexual content, brief nudity, language, and extensive smoking throughout the film. The movie is not intended for younger audiences or those who are sensitive to strong violence.

© 2022 Camillia Clark

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