Review: MANDY Is "The Craziest God Damn Film I've Ever Seen."
With how much has been said about the Panos Cosmatos-helmed Mandy as of late, it's quite a task to say anything that will read as fresh or exciting. It's all been said and rightfully so, the film is a cornucopia of beautiful visuals and horrific dread, so this review will stray somewhat from the traditional "this is what the movie is about and this is why you should watch it" format, and I'm going to attempt to just chat with you Ghastly Grinners for a moment about what is easily, the craziest goddamn film I've ever seen.
Within the past decade or so, Nicole Cage has been reduced to countless memes, Youtube lists and so on and in all of that, we as film lovers tend to forget that the man is one of the best actors around. Sure, you're free to throw a "not the bees!" quote to me or perhaps point a finger or ten at his Gumby-like delivery in Peggy Sue Got Married, but here's the thing: HE HAS PLANNED EVERY ROLE TO BE JUST WHAT HE WANTS IT TO BE. Cage knows exactly what the character needs in his head and though it's labeled "Cage Rage" and every other ridiculous name under the sun, it's acting at its finest. There is no pretension when it comes to Cage and that precision is on full display in Mandy.
As Red, Cage shines without even saying much for the first quarter of the film. We're introduced to a man who has seen a lot in his life thus far, you can tell that from his face and the way he interacts with the love of his life, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). There's an endearing charm about the couple's dynamic, a charm that allows us as viewers to really care about the couple before anything bad happens, making it that much more effective and downright tragic, when Mandy unfortunately crosses paths with a religious sect led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), an enigmatic cult leader who takes a liking to the woman after passing by her. Sands immediately demands his cult to bring Mandy to him and when she doesn't succumb to his advances and promises of an elightened life with HIM, tragedy is bestowed upon Red and we see a man beaten and bruised, left without the one thing (or in this case, person) who makes him feel like himself, setting off a chain of events that we as viewers find it impossible to take our eyes off of.
On a mission, Red goes after not only the religious sect but a group of mysterious biker "things" that seem right out Hellraiser, bolts and all. What makes Red's journey so interesting is that it's never at any point your typical hero's journey. No, instead of just doing the right thing, we're exposed alongside Red, with LSD, Cocaine and violence that rivals the gnarliest of genre films. While being enthralled with such visually rich atmosphere, full of reds and pinks and purples, we're also given Red killing a being who is doing cocaine, then snorting the villains drugs himself, just to keep going. Our hero is flawed and desperate, something that makes Cage's penchant for over the top greatness shine brighter than he ever has before. He's not just seeking revenge for the death of his loved one, no, he wants to kill people over slicing his shirt.
What Mandy excels at is marrying the visually gorgeous scenery with horror, but also with performances that go from extremely grounded to batshit insane, all in the same film. When Red partakes of the drugs that help him descend into the world the cult is a part of, it's similar to what we would get if Jodorowsky directed Hellraiser, a drug-fueled nightmare that you simply cannot take your mind off of. I'd be lying if I said that even after seeing the film a good five times already, that I know 100% what the hell I've seen and that's something that works so well for it: you're not supposed to have everything explained, it's more about a feeling, a tone and an effect that happens to its viewers, going on a journey into hell, one filled with chainsaw fights, drugs and well...a goblin that pukes mac n’ cheese on children's heads. If that's not your idea of a fun time, then you don't know fun.