The full range of Nicolas Cage’s ferocious acting ability is on display in Mandy – a grindhouse revenge thriller that offers us LSD-crazed bikers, several deaths by burning and axe-smelting. It is nothing if not full on, and for a joint like this Cage is most definitely a filmmaker’s go-to guy.
Mandy is Andrea Riseborough, who lives with Red (Cage), her lumberjack husband, in an isolated cabin. The year is 1983, and director Panos Cosmatis digs deep into a colour-saturated palette reminiscent of VHS box cover art while the late Johan Johannsson’s synth-heavy score recalls the semi-John Carpenter drones of the era’s pulpier horrors. Surprisingly – but not unpleasantly – King Crimson feature on the soundtrack.
When Mandy is brutally murdered – not really spoilers, tbh – by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) and his hellish band of acid-swilling psychos, it falls to Red to exact protracted and bloody revenge. This is not a film that encourages a nuanced review: it is wild and crazy, high on its own bodycount. Cage, of course, lords over the carnage with devilish aplomb – forging his own battle axe here or snorting a huge pile of cocaine off a shard of broken glass. And here he is again, lighting a cigarette off the flaming head of a vanquished foe.
For those of us who admire Cage when he’s full tilt, Mandy is probably the actor’s best since Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans – another film (and filmmaker) that unshackled Cage. Who wouldn’t hallucinate a giant iguana after a crack binge, after all? It’s hard to think of an actor so willing to go so far in pursuit of deranged emotional truths as Cage. Mandy is among his best.
Brill film. A lot slower paced than you might expect for two-thirds (no bad thing as it allows you drink in the beautiful visuals and soundtrack) but once the revenging begins the pace picks up. Certainly not a film for everyone, but one of my absolute favourites of 2018