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"NIGHTMARE ALLEY"
(2021) (Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett) (R)


At-A-Glace Content Summary

Alcohol/Drugs Heavy
Blood/Gross Stuff Heavy
Disrespectful/Bad Attitude Extreme
Frightening/Tense Scenes Heavy
Gun/Weapons Extreme
Imitative Behavior Heavy
Jump Scenes Mild
Music (Scary/Tense) Extreme
Music (Inappropriate) None
Profanity Extreme
Sex/Nudity Heavy
Smoking Extreme
Tense Family Scenes Extreme
Topics to Talk About Heavy
Violence Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: An ambitious man takes the deception he learns as a carny to greater acclaim but also greater risks.
PLOT:

It's the late 1930s and after committing a heinous act, Stan Carlisle (BRADLEY COOPER) comes across a carnival run by Clem Hoately (WILLEM DAFOE) and eventually gets a low-level job there. But it allows him to meet and befriend other carnies such as tarot card reader Zeena Krumbein (TONI COLLETTE) and her washed-up, alcoholic magician husband, Pete (DAVID STRATHAIM), who know how to read and manipulate people to make their marks believe they have psychic powers.

Pete eventually teaches Stan the tricks of the trade when the newcomer isn't wooing Molly Cahill (ROONEY MARA) who does an electrically charged act, with Stan's interest in her not sitting well with strongman Bruno (RON PERLMAN) who promised Molly's late father he'd keep watch over her.

But Stan has greater ambitions than staying with the carnival and it's not long before he and Molly become a couple and leave for greener pastures, namely clubs in the big city where he can use what Pete taught him to con the elite, with Molly as his assistant. His act draws the attention of sophisticated psychologist Lilith Ritter (CATE BLANCHETT), and her knowledge of and recorded conversations with wealthy clients has him concoct a mutually beneficial arrangement with her.

But she warns against using his con on Ezra Grindle (RICHARD JENKINS), a wealthy, powerful, and possibly dangerous man with a tortured soul who falls for Stan's skills, unlike his bodyguard, Anderson (HOLT McCALLANY), who casts a wary eye on the outsider. As Stan continues with his ruse, it's uncertain how far he'll go.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Teens might, especially if they're fans of anyone in the cast or the director (Guillermo del Toro).
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong/bloody violence, some sexual content, nudity and language.


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