Sunday 9 December 2018

Mandy ★★★★★

If the last ten years of Nicolas Cage’s bizarre career choices (and resulting memes) have been building up to something, then Mandy is surely the result. This is a film that puts the Nicolas Cage up to 11 and lets him truly embrace his utterly crazy side, and gives him the opportunity to give us his finest performance since his Oscar-winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas. While his performance here certainly isn’t going to bag him another Oscar (although that’s the sort of world I’d like to live in), it will at least remind audiences and critics alike what the man is capable of with the right material.

Thankfully, the film around Nicolas Cage is just as good. This isn’t just a vehicle for Cage to do his thing; it is actually a remarkable feat of cinematic madness in its own right. Directed by visionary filmmaker and writer Panos Cosmatos (2010s Beyond The Black Rainbow), the film follows a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon henchmen who kidnap the titular Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), propelling her boyfriend Red (Cage) on a surreal and increasingly gruesome rampage of vengeance. It feels like the film that Cage’s Drive Angry could’ve been if that film had been good. 

The film is an experience – one that you’ve probably never had anything like at the movies before. Don’t dismiss this as just another Nic Cage rampage. This film is stunningly crafted with breathtaking visuals and a wonderfully nostalgic score, giving the whole film a dark and twisted 1980s vibe. Think Stranger Things, if that was made under the influence of aggressively hallucinogenic drugs. Mandy is a trip. There’s no other word fitting of it. It is an often uncomfortable and harrowing experience, but always thoroughly entertaining and engrossing. But beyond the staggering violence and stunning visuals lies some surprising depth. The film is more emotional than I expected it to be – but there isn’t a huge amount of time to take in these emotional beats before Cage has another violent and volcanic outburst. Make no mistake, this is a hardcore and metal film – don’t let the emotion fool you, this is not a film for the faint of heart. It is pure, over-the-top pulp.

All in all, Mandy is probably going to struggle to get attention from lots of you – understandably, you will think this is just another rubbish Cage straight-to-DVD effort that will be in the bargain bin before you know it. But this is a film of a surprisingly high quality and one that will easily endure a long life as a cult classic. I suspect Mandy will go down as Nicolas Cage’s masterpiece, and certainly the film he is remembered for. Academy Award be damned, this is his finest work – because it is the first film to truly let him fly with his craziness and be exactly the Nicolas Cage we want him to be. But beyond that, it’s a bloody good film. A true cinematic treat. Mandy is a masterpiece!

Sam Love

Mandy at CeX

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