Out Now On-Demand
Nicolas Cage hunts down a religious sect in this revenge thriller from the director of Beyond the Black Rainbow. Co-starring Andrea Riseborough (The Death of Stalin), the film's concept art teases an epic one-on-one chainsaw battle.
"Somewhere in the primal wilderness near the Shadow Mountains in the year 1983, Red Miller (Cage) has fallen deeply for the beguiling Mandy Bloom (Riseborough). But the life he has made for himself comes suddenly and horrifyingly crashing down when a vile band of ravaging idolaters and supernatural creatures penetrate his idyllic paradise with vicious fury. A broken man, Red now lives for one thing only — to hunt down these maniacal villains and exact swift vengeance." (Sundance Film Festival)
- Panos Cosmatos('Beyond the Black Rainbow')
Rating: MA15+ Strong horror themes, bloody violence, drug use, sex and nudity
Explaining Mandy is tricky. Is it an eighties pastiche? A goof presented as high art? An excuse for Nic Cage to bug his eyes out a lot?
It’s all of these, but to really understand the soul of the film it needs to be experienced. Thinking back on it is like half-remembering a nightmare with lots of heavy metal imagery. What lingers is the constant feeling of dread and the vividly-coloured images, stylised within an inch of their lives.
Movies set in the eighties with an exploitation bent have become pretty commonplace, but what distinguishes Mandy (aside from its artistry), is the way it treats its story with real sincerity. It’s funny in a ludicrous sort of way, particularly in its increasingly bonkers second half, but director Panos Cosmatos doesn’t lose sight of his characters’ feelings. More than anything, it’s actually really sad.
For a good chunk of the movie we’re just hanging out with Cage’s forestry worker Red and his artist girlfriend Mandy, observing their sweet interactions. Pay attention and you’ll see the implication of some dark backstories. The suggestion is they’ve found solace in each other.
Which makes it all the more tragic when things turn to custard, and hoo boy do they ever.
It shouldn’t be overlooked how good Cage is. Gentle and loving in the first half, in the second he becomes a creature fueled by grief and rage, and in both modes he’s captivating. Much has been made of his more gonzo moments, including the now-infamous sequence where he goes berserk in a bathroom while chugging vodka, but resist the temptation to laugh at Cage-the-fading-movie-star and you’ll see that what he’s doing is committed in a way a lot of actors just can’t touch.
And as good as he is, Andrea Riseborough is better. It’s her character that gives the movie its soul, haunting every frame even when she’s not on screen. There’s a good reason why Mandy is named after her.
So yes, this is a film with demon bikers and chainsaw fights, but there’s a lot going on under the hood. Cosmatos has made the most tragic, psychedelic revenge movie possible, and loaded it with images that I guarantee will haunt you. Alternately beautiful and bludgeoning, Mandy is the real deal.
Little White Lies
RogerEbert.com (Nick Allen)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
TimeOut (New York)
Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)
Nicolas Cage at his best fighting a cult? I think yes.
Very easy to embrace the chaotic silliness that is Nic Cage in this movie. Very pretty visuals and score elevate this movie to one of the more aesthetic movies released this year.
a cynical attempt at a cult film
Mandy is not, as expected, glorious eighties-inspired violent action fun. It is an entirely predictable paint-by-numbers, very trendy 2018 film seemingly made solely for Nic Cage fanboys who have finished Stranger Things and need some more cinematography to talk about. Angela Riseborough is criminlly underused and serves as nothing more than a plot point in Cage's emotional development.
Hell to the yeah!
The second of two acid-trips I enjoyed seeing splashed all over the big screen during the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival, MANDY is a lot like “Acid Western” LET THE CORPSES TAN in its vibrant use of colour and hallucinogenic story sense.
If you love the likes of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s EL TOPO or Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA, the stylistic flourishes, lush colours, psychedelic cinematography and totally committed performances by actors giving not just their all, but a little bit more - then MANDY is for you.
Cards on the table, I went in to see director Panos Cosmatos’ latest a little wary. Critics and movie-fan friends had raved about his BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, which I found tiresome, dull and just well, didn’t dig.
But MANDY? This is a movie that stayed with me, so much so that I’ve now seen it twice on the big screen, and it just gets better with each viewing.
There’s an unbending law of nature that, sure as gravity throws apples off trees, Nicolas Cage makes at least one great movie for every nine-hundred-and-seventeen crappola ones. Here, as Red the lumberjack, he’s superb, running the full range from subtle and withdrawn to full-bore psycho.
Getting the acting tone right for this kind of over-the-top fare ain’t easy. It’s as if David Lynch were directing an action revenge thriller, but fortunately the cast are superb, from Andrea Riseborough as Mandy, Linus Roach as cult-leader Jeremiah Sand, and it’s great to see character actors Bill Duke and Richard Brake show up in supporting, but suitably demented, roles.
The fabulously off-kilter score is one of the last by the late, great Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and coupled with Benjamin Loeb’s scintillating cinematography, sound and visuals combine to create a near perfect head-trip.
Set in the distant past time that was 1983, MANDY conjures up a host of crazy trippy midnight movie madness. Red and Mandy’s idyllic love nest is invaded by creepy cult Children of the New Dawn, led by Sand, who doesn’t take kindly to Mandy mocking his manhood.
Before you can say “gratuitous but stylish violence” Red goes Rambo, avenging his girlfriend, taking on demon bikers The Black Skulls, forging a mighty axe, and downing vast amounts of LSD and what appears to be venom from a giant wasp along the way…
Anyway, the plot’s not as important as the telling - and the telling here is brash, bold and mind-bogglingly bizarre. Should it work? Absolutely not. Does it? Hell yeah.
MANDY is a big screen experience to be relished and fully deserving of cult status in its ambition, and single-minded, heightened, Eighties-cinema-tainted vision.
Mad Max Who?
You have never seen anything like it. There's films and than there's experiences.
Lets go kill some drug-crazed biker, hippy, Jesus-freaks
I'm a lumberjack and I'm Okay. Until the night some drug-crazed biker, hippy, Jesus-freaks showed up at my cabin in the woods and killed my woman.
Nicolas Cage transforms from a mild-mannered lumberjack living blissfully with Mandy, a new age artist/shopkeeper, into raging homicidal maniac on a revenge rampage in a self-indulgent visual orgy of 1970's and 80's imagery to an incessant soundtrack of foghorn and bass guitar. This film certainly qualifies for the Incredibly Strange section of the NZIFF.
Mandy is not without humour. The chainsaw duel with its nod to India Jones is my favourite set piece in the film.
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