After watching director Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, my friend Kris Deason described it as “a baking-soda-infused, water-soluble, completely smokable concentration of Heavy Metal magazine… like a nightmare where the worst monster you can imagine comes for you and you stomp its dick.”
That’s really the only review you need, but here are a few more words of praise.
Mandy has two distinctive halves. The first introduces Nicolas Cage as Red, a logger living in the woods with his sci-fi-loving partner, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). After Mandy is kidnapped and murdered by a pseudo hippie cult, the second half of the film follows a drug-fueled “Rage Cage” vengeance spree.
Watching Cage freak out is a treat, and it’s this writer’s opinion that he is one of our greatest living actors. There are some cuckoo-bananas things going on in this film that Cage plays straight, with sincere howls of grief and uninhibited emotion. We see him in his underwear, downing an entire bottle of vodka in the bathroom, losing his mind. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in this role, and it truly must be seen to be believed. (It’s also worth noting that Red’s only ally without Mandy is a survivalist played by Bill Duke!)
Visually, Mandy is psychedelic and stunning; fans of Cosmatos’ debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow, will not be disappointed. A deep blood red rolls over the film like fog. An unsettling effect melds the Manson-like villain’s face with Mandy’s. It hits all sorts of genre-nerd sweet spots, with Cenobite-looking mutant bikers, bladesmithing and chainsaw battles. Mandy also features the final film score from Johann Johannsson (Sicario, Arrival), completing Cosmatos’ incredible dreamscape with synth-driven sounds and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) on guitar.
While you can watch Mandy on VOD, it should be experienced on the largest screen possible. Thankfully, it screens at Athens’ independent theater this weekend. For showtimes, check the Ciné website.
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