Review - 'Mandy'
Mandy is the absolute perfect vehicle for Nicolas Cage. Imagine Cage; the serious actor that actually implements subtlety into his performances, I know it’s rare these days, but that Cage is present here. Now imagine Nicolas “Put the bunny down!” Cage, the one we all know and love, well, that Cage is also very much a part of this movie. Now picture these two Nicolas Cage performances in the middle of a revenge plot which is then draped in the putrid, scarlet miasma of a heavy-metal hellscape and you have Mandy in a nutshell.
Red (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) enjoy a peaceful life in the tranquil forests of the Shadow Mountains in California. When a cult leader takes a liking to Mandy and impulsively decides to kidnap her, Red goes into a revenge-fueled frenzy
For starters, I loved this movie, but it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. Mandy is a HEAVY film, both thematically and aesthetically, and the style in which it is presented is virtually the opposite of what your everyday film-goer would categorize as crowd-pleasing. That said, if my praises speak to you on any level, you truly owe it to yourself to watch this film.
Though Mandy’s plot can be boiled down to the simplest of revenge stories; the filter in which we view it through is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Panos Cosmatos shoots every scene differently, finding fascinating angles and color hues that cut the fat and evoke the desired emotions immediately, and most of the time it is without the assistance of dialogue. Which is not to say people don’t speak throughout the film, they do, but it’s hardly necessary. In fact, it took me until the credits to realize that this was pretty much a silent film in regards to spoken lines. The out-of-this-world visuals, the malevolent, metallic sound design and the slow-rolling, rippling hell-march of a soundtrack do all of the talking.
Then we have Nicolas Cage. This movie simply wouldn’t work with any other actor. Mandy required an actor that can pull off a certain type of manic insanity, the type of insanity that only exists behind the twitching, wide eyes of Cage when cranked to 11. What’s great is that we get the best of both worlds of Cage. We get the understated actor for the first half, and the unbridled maniac in the second, and somehow it all works within the context of the film.
Mandy isn’t perfect however. There were a few times where Nicolas Cage would slip out of character with some seriously corn-ball lines that felt out-of-place. Yes, half of this film is over-the-top, but at least of couple of Cage’s one-liners would grate against the films avant-garde vibes in a way that didn’t quite gel. In addition to this, I never felt a real connection to Mandy herself, and it’s not because Andrea Riseborough did a poor job, it’s there wasn’t enough time spent with her in the beginning to establish her character in a meaningful way.
The minor slip-ups by Cage and the slight lack of character development are only minor chinks in Mandy’s armor. 95% of the time, Cage is on-point and definitely the only man I could think of that could pull off a character like this, and what better director to capitalize off of his talents than the visionary Panos Cosmatos, whose eye is unmatched when it comes to bringing a hellish revenge story to terrifying, beautiful life. Mandy is a film that is uncompromising, and one of the few movies out there where you can really tell that its director was given full freedom to make the film he wanted to make.