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Guillermo del Toro Nightmare Alley

Sapphics rejoice: Guillermo del Toro’s new film looks like a Carol sequel

The lesbian longing between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara intensifies in this first look at del Toro’s Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro has released a first look to his upcoming thriller, Nightmare Alley, starring the likes of Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, and Rooney Mara.

Based on William Lindsay’s 1946 novel of the same name, the film follows Cooper as a former carnival worker who becomes a big-city nightclub performer by convincing people that he can read minds. Blanchett is a psychiatrist who first tries to expose him as a charlatan, but fast becomes embroiled in his schemes.

Fans of the filmmaker, however, have been quick to point out the similarities between one image from the film and lesbian flick Carol. The shot in question shows Mara (who plays Cooper’s girlfriend) looking over longingly at Blanchett, striking resemblance to the pair‘s on-film romance in the 2015 period film.

The mid-century attire in the clip is noticably similar to the fits worn by Blanchett’s Carol Aird and Mara’s Therese Belivet in Todd Haynes’ sapphic film. You can practically imagine the pair walking off camera to indulge in a serving of creamed spinach and poached eggs. And a dry martini. With an olive. Or, Blanchett forgetting her glove in the hope that Mara ‘returns’ it. 

A previous image shared in 2020 showed the pair standing in the snow on the set of Nightmare Alley in a shot that’s uncannily close in tone and energy to Carol. Some fans are even referring to the del Toro’s film as Carol 2.

The follow-up to del Toro’s Oscars winner The Shape of Water, Nightmare Alley also stars Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, del Toro said that the film isn’t the fantasy-horror fans have come to expect of him, but rather a classic film noir. 

“It has happened to me in the past with Crimson Peak, where people went in expecting a horror movie. I knew it was a gothic romance but it was very difficult to put that across,” he said. ”But yes, this has no supernatural element. It’s based completely in a reality world. There is nothing fantastic. It’s a very different movie from my usual, but yes, the title and my name would create that (impression).”

Del Toro added: “Curiously enough, in approaching Nightmare Alley, I said I’m not going to do any of the clichés associated with the genre. I’m not going to do an artifact. I’m not going to do the Venetian blinds, and voiceover, and detectives walking with fedoras in wet streets. I wanted to do the universe of the novel, which is a little gritty, but also strangely magical. It has a very strange, mystical allure – and mythical. I was very attracted to that possibility.”

Nightmare Alley hits theaters December 17. Check out some of our favourite sapphic responses to the film below.