There are some movies out there that are made to purely blow your mind. Mandy is one of them.
Directed by Panos Cosmatos, the film revolves around a couple, Mandy and Red, living in the Pacific Northwest during the eighties. Secluded in the Shadow Mountains, they live their life idyllically and in love. However, when a cult-like group, led by the petulant Jeremiah, spot Mandy walking through the forest, they invade their home intent on indicting her into their group. When Mandy refuses, laughing in Jeremiah’s face, he kills her in front of Red. Angered, Red goes on a brutal and bloody revenge mission.
I’ll get it out of the way now: Both Mandy and it’s fellow midnight movie companion Upgrade are brilliantly accomplished films. However, they are both blighted by churning out the same problem. The wife or lover having to die in order for the man to go on a mission of revenge and a spiritual journey because of it. That is a story that itself should’ve have died (only for a man to go on rampage in vengeance.) That being said, when they are told this spectacularly, we can hardly grumble.
Mandy is a visual masterpiece. Cosmatos injects a feverish imaginative energy. The imagery is impeccable, utilising our new obsession with brightly neon colours. The cinematography flits between red, green, and purple whilst also playing with light and shadow. It is a spectacle, like a vivid and vibrant nightmare that it dares to bend the boundaries in cinema making. There’s animated dreams, title sequences throughout the film, and an absolutely divine shot-layer that is as inventive as it is beautiful. Cosmatos has crafted a wicked feast of imagery that is filled with every colour of the spectrum.
It is a movie that certainly capitalises on Nic Cages particular brand of madness acting. He is at his pinnacle here, with moments so gloriously batty that the audiences erupted into applause. Yet despite all his crazed antics, he is also able to muster great sorrow and rage. Moments of anguish feel real in his hands because he is making them so. It’s a fantastic lead performance by Cage but perhaps one not fully appreciated. In moments, he is actually tender and sweet but his screen presence and history caused titters and laughter which is unnecessary at times. Still Cage puts in an earnest performance as Red that is a engaging, watchable, and amazing.
He is only eclipsed by Andrea Riseborough every time she is on screen. As fleeting as her character is, Riseborough makes her presence felt throughout. She has such haunting eyes and a brilliant way of making herself so enthralling.
Linus Roache makes a very brilliant impression as the antagonist Jeremiah. An old pop-star wannabe transformed into a “disciple of God” (yet still with the massive ego.) In fact, I’d go as far to say that that’s all fanatical religious leaders are – attention-seeking children who cry when things don’t go their way. Omph, whilst that may have not been the intention, it is definitely on the nose with recent affairs.
The late Johann Johansson created a synth-heavy score that feels like an ode to classic metal songs of yore (in fact, the whole film feels that way too.) It’s a sorrow-filled reminder of the talent we lost; encompassing music that masters the emotive and highlights the story-telling.
Mandy is the film you’re expecting and it isn’t at the same time. It has evolves, transforming every second it’s on the screen. Cosmatos has crafted a film that is haunting yet hilarious, The colours are vibrant, the performances are deeper and crazier than expected, the score is enchanting – every beat becomes a louder . Bewitching and barbaric, Mandy is a movie definitely made with the intention to purely blow your mind.
Mandy screens as part of BFI London Film Festival
It is out 12th October