‘Nightmare Alley’ Review: Guillermo del Toro Taps Bradley Cooper’s Dark Side in This Bravura Carnival Noir

The world is one big carnival, and we’re all just suckers — or “marks,” in the parlance of the traveling grifters so effective at fleecing those poor rubes who are not with it — in Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley.” A perfect match of material to auteur, William Lindsay Gresham’s pulpy 1946 novel and the shockingly dark studio picture it inspired give the helmer, hot off his Oscar win for “The Shape of Water,” a chance to go full-film noir, resulting in a gorgeous, fantastically sinister moral fable about the cruel predictability of human nature and the way entire systems — from carnies and con men to shrinks and Sunday preachers — are engineered to exploit it.Building on the rise-and-crash arc of his “A Star Is Born” has-been, Bradley Cooper delivers another terrific tragic turn as ambitious huckster Stanton Carlisle, proving an even better match for the picaresque protagonist than Tyrone Power

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