Darkness lurks beneath the bright carnival lights of Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper’s sultry psychological thriller, Nightmare Alley. Now, Blanchett has revealed what it’s really been like playing a contemporary femme fatale in the upcoming film.
A neo-noir psychological thriller set in a 1940s carnival starring Cate Blanchett and directed by Guillermo del Toro. If that sentence alone doesn’t sell you on the upcoming film Nightmare Alley, then the deliciously dark trailer just might.
Based on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, with a screenplay co-written by Kim Morgan and del Toro, Nightmare Alley follows an ambitious carny (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words who hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Blanchett) who’s even more dangerous than he is.
Blanchett’s character Lilith oozes sophistication but recently speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the star admitted that her character is not a traditional femme fatale. “I think there’s a richness and a texture to her, in a way that perhaps there’s not in traditional femme fatales,” she says.
She adds: “Femme fatales, to me, often are sirens who – and it’s always men – draw men into the rocks, but for destructive reasons. Whereas I think Lilith is interested in bringing the system down. And that feels a very contemporary thing for a woman who’s suffered extreme pain to want to do. And it’s all pouched in the buoyant, strange, and unique humanity in which Guillermo makes his movies.”
Blanchett goes on to describe Lilith as “deeply ambiguous and unknowable and mysterious”. In a bid to understand her portrayal on a more personal level, she explains that her director encouraged her to formulate a backstory for Lilith.
“Guillermo is very, very big on backstory,” she explains. “So even though a lot of the characters never explicitly mention who they are, what motivates them, what their history is, he absolutely wants all of those characters to be rich and full the minute they walk in the door, and also for them to have a secret that is only shared with him.”
And if the name of the upcoming film didn’t give it away, we’re in for plenty of dark drama indeed.
What is the plot of Nightmare Alley?
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Nightmare Alley tells the story of a down on his luck but charismatic “carny” Stanton Carlisle. While at a traveling carnival, Carlisle meets and endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena, as well as her mentalist husband Pete. Eventually, with the aid of mysterious psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Blanchett), the duo begin to plot a grift with some newly acquired knowledge, setting their target on dangerous and skeptical tycoon Ezra Grindle.
The minute and a half trailer is a dizzying look at the lively carnival scene, but from the cracks of thunder and houses engulfed in flames, it’s clear that something dark and threatening is lurky beneath the bright lights.
Cooper’s Carlisle is seen answering under the pressure of a lie-detector test that he is a “true medium” and can read minds “under the right circumstances.”
“We’ve had our fair share of snake charmers in the past. We deal with them,” Grindle ominously promises.
Blanchett’s psychiatrist is sultry and satin-clad, and can be seen holding a gun and telling Carlisle: “If you displease the right people, the world closes in on you very, very fast.”
Watch the drama unfold below:
Who else stars in Nightmare Alley?
The stellar cast that includes Toni Collette, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe and Clifton Collins Jr. also make appearances in the trailer that teases deception, lust, violence, fire and blood.
Bradley Cooper and J. Miles Dale serve as producers for the film, which was co-written by Kim Morgan and del Toro.
What are people saying about Nightmare Alley?
If you needed more reason to add this film to your watch-list, visiting the comments beneath the film’s trailer would be sure to sway you.
“This looks like a masterpiece. I can’t wait!” praised one excited viewer.
Many praised the aesthetic cinematography del Toro is known for, with one fan writing: “Guillermo del Toro’s ability to world-build is incredible. The cinematography, production design, costumes look to be on the level of The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth. Put that together with this cast, and I cannot wait to see this.”
“I’ll give anything del Toro a chance, and the cast looks great so it makes it extra easy,” a third added.
When will Nightmare Alley be available to watch?
Nightmare Alley will be coming to UK and Irish cinemas on 21 January.
Images: 20th Century Studios