Mandy stars Nick Cage, playing Nick Cage, in an epic Nick Cage film. This may be enough to put some people off, but this film, if purely for it's stunning visuals and mesmerizing score is worth watching at least once. Pinks, greens, blues and a multitude of colour washes cover the screen in this trippy tale of plain old revenge. I've seen the film on both small and big screen before writing this which I'm glad I did.
Director Panos Cosmatos goes out of his way to blow our minds and excite our senses with scenes of what seems like an acid induced trip. The films starts with a very peaceful look into the lives of Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) and Red Miller (Cage) who live a tranquil life style as close to nature as can be. This dream like existence quickly descends into a hellish nightmare as the "Jesus freaks" pass through their neighbourhood. Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) has his eyes on Mandy and recruits LSD bikers that look like they came straight out of a Hellraiser film to kidnap her.
This doesn't work out as expected which leads to Mandy's death and what the Jesus freaks believe to be the end of Red. In turn, Red tracks down the bikers, a chemist and the rest of the culprits involved in an alcohol and LSD induced fury.
On the surface to some, this may seem simple, but I found a lot of hidden meaning. Jeremiah can be likened to Charles Manson (even going as far as to quote the now infamous "pigs" phrase). The bikers, 4 of them, could easily be the 4 horseman (even the way they ride the bikes as if rearing a stead) of the apocalypse and the Chemist, having created the LSD they're all into could easily be a god figure.
Unfortunately, there's only 3 scenes of any real emotional content to go with all of that. Red in the bathroon after losing Mandy. He's quite obviously an ex alcoholic, having turned down a beer in the opening scene and having a hidden stash of vodka in the bathroom which he downs and lets out a roar of emotion that only Cage can produce invoking the inner demons of his past, which he held off because of his love for Mandy. The scene with the Chemist, played by the always awesome Richard Brake, in which he reads Red's mind and along with setting a Tiger free, sets Red (who's wearing a tiger t-shirt in an earlier scene in somewhat of a Jesus on the cross pose) free to do as he pleases with the Chemist's (or God's) gone bad creations. All this then leads to the final scenes in which we see and feel Red descend into the blissful madness he has chosen to be part of after his acts of righteous revenge.
The movie felt like it was influenced by many directors, films and of course the 80s (in which it's set) cinema era itself which seems to be very fashionable nowadays. The story telling "chapter" separation of Tarantino, Clive Barker's Hellraiser, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (animated intervals amidst the madness), Mad Max, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (probably the weakest scene) and the bathroom scene could easily have been taken straight out of a Kubrick flick. As much as the film looked and sounded both beautiful and transcendent, it felt a little messy because of this and seemed to be missing a certain something that could've and should've made this movie a masterpiece.
I so wanted this movie to blow me away, but in the end I was only a little moved. I think this will be a Marmite movie to most people. Having said that, I'm still going to give it a generous 4 stars because...
Edit: So it's now January of 2020 and I've watched Mandy around 5 times now. I've actually got it playing as I write this. The more I watch it, the more I love it and with what I've been through personally since first watching it, the more I can relate to Red and Mandy's relationship. So, it's not a generous 4 Stars, it's a very well deserved 4 Stars.
"They were weirdo, hippie-types, whole bunch of 'em. And then there was some muscle - it didn't make any sense. There were bikers, and gnarly psychos, and... crazy evil." Red Miller
|Mandy gets 4 out of 5 Stars|