Mandy is a special film by Panos Cosmatos. To make comparisons to other works would be to diminish it’s unique style. It’s saturated in that special sauce that makes the artwork of Heavy Metal magazine so engaging. It has that aura of the relentless force of the biker from Raising Arizona. Or the road warriors of Mad Max. Taking the tension and pacing of Drive and smashing it all together with drug addled demons and a gonzo, unbridled Nicolas Cage. Cage plays Red, a lumberjack living the simple life, secluded peacefully deep in the woods with the love of his life. Mandy. Things take a turn when the couple cross paths with lunatic cultists and everything begins to unwind into insanity.
It’s a pulpy revenge tale that is very familiar but Mandy glides along with an ethereal and moody acid trip pace that makes it stand on its own. Painting each frame in psychedelic colors with beautifully immersive music by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson (who the film is dedicated to) that sets the tone. If you are familiar with Panos’s previous film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, and enjoyed that experience then you will feel at home here. But if that movie isn’t for you then the first hour or so of this may drive you away.
But if you come along for the ride you are rewarded with Nicolas Cage at his unhinged best. Manic Cage needs to be handled as carefully as the razor sharp ax he wields in Mandy. If not carefully directed the true potential would be wasted. But Panos masterfully focuses Nicolas Cage’s rage as he begins his quest to take revenge on the evil cultists who wronged him. The villains are one note but effective, with Linus Roache bringing the most as the head of the cultists and the one responsible for summoning the demons to track down our title character, played by the haunting Andrea Riseborough as Mandy.
Mandy is simple in plot but there are heaps of symbolism and allegory to explore. It is drenched in atmosphere and will stay with you long after the movie is over. It is available in select theaters now and on VOD.