When Nic Cage’s performance is the most normal thing about a film, you know you’re dealing with something truly extraordinary.
The first thing you notice about Mandy is its look. It’s like cinematographer Benjamin Loeb has only just discovered colour and he wants to try every one immediately. In every frame. The result is unforgettable, turning even the most ordinary scene into a psychedelic kaleidoscope battered by grain.
The hallucinogenic editing from Brett W. Bachman blends frames together into a swirling, hypnotic lucid dream. All of this helps director Panos Cosmatos to establish an entrancing mood, which retains your interest, even when the feeble plot is limping along.
There’s a lot of operatic giallo mumbo-jumbo going on, which can and should be taken at face value, but the core of the story sees Mandy (the excellent Andrea Riseborough) fridged for the motivation of Red (Nic Cage). It’s a regressive moment that is reinforced by the misogyny of the demon cult attacking Red and Mandy, but it does give us one gift: it unleashes Nic Cage.
That opening sentence was a lie. Cage is subdued for the first half, but when he sees Mandy burned to ashes in front of him, he explodes into a glorious crescendo of the most uninhibited and joyous Cage chaos in years. That supercut is going to need updating.
The home stretch feels like a heavy metal Scott Pilgrim, with Cage fighting through grief rather than for love. His soundtrack is provided by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, showing his mastery of any style necessary with apocalyptic horror vibes. It’s like he borrowed Hans Zimmer’s antique BWAAAM generator and turned it up to 11.
There’s an incredible, cult pulp horror film in here somewhere, but Mandy is too overindulgent to bring it out.
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke
DIRECTOR: Panos Cosmatos
WRITERS: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
SYNOPSIS: Mandy is set in the primal wilderness of 1983 where Red Miller, a broken and haunted man hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life.
[TRAILER COMING SOON]