Director: panos Cosmatos (beyond the black rainbow, rewind this)
Starring: nicholas cage, andrea riseborough, linus roache, and richard brake
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
In the Pacific Northwest in 1983, outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with deadly fire.
Mandy, the new film by Panos Cosmatos is a strange and surreal revenge trip starring Andrea Riseborough as Mandy and Nicolas Cage and her partner, Red.
This film is presented to the audience in segments with title cards, though it feels very much like one of two halves. Red and Mandy’s relationship and the tragedy that separates them informs each half, with the film shifting in tone and style to match this as the story builds towards its increasingly preposterous and surreal climax.
Mandy early on shows us that the couple have built a loving relationship, one that is idiosyncratic, but which is a salve to the pains of their pasts. They have refuge and acceptance in each other, which is what makes Red’s trajectory understandable when this life is torn from them by the cult The Children of the New Dawn and their leader, the deluded and despicable Jeremiah Sand.
This half of the film is an excellent showcase for the growth in the director’s unique style since Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) which similarly utilised a hazy, vibrant and almost dreamlike visual style. Unlike that film, which is a slow and measured exploration of mania; Mandy benefits from the momentum of Red’s desperation and anguish – that is fantastically realised by Nic Cage in characteristically fine manic form.
The second half of the film follows Red’s increasingly unhinged path towards the Black Skulls, and evil biker gang employed by Jeremiah Sand. This leads to the film’s wholehearted embrace of surrealism and preposterousness, the zenith being Red’s chainsaw boss-fight with a Black Skull biker.
Mandy is an excellent hallucinatory revenge trip that was thoroughly engaging, with a brilliant use of Nic Cage’s unique acting talents.
Mandy is an unabashedly crazy and surreal film, and whether it is something that you can enjoy will surely depend on your willingness to let it take you on its ridiculous ride.