Guillermo Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” deals with monsters, as do all of his films, only here, these cruel, debased creatures have human faces.

This is genre-neutral offering, a combination of “carny” performer drama and an outright film noir, offering a tale of corrupt entertainers who lose their moral compass, is among the filmmakers’ finest.

I knew little about the film going in, so I’ll be careful to keep its secrets intact: Bradley Cooper plays a man who stumbles into employment at a carnival, where he finds the exotic offerings and showmanship of the buskers are a contrast to the moral rot behind the big top curtain.

Del Toro’s film draws us into a fascinating world and offers a collection of excellent performances. There are lengthy scenes of characters in conversation that are every bit as captivating as the more dynamically staged set pieces.

What a…

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