Mandy is the latest movie by Panos Cosmatos. Cosmatos’s last film was 2010’s Beyond the Black Rainbow. For the uninitiated Beyond the Black Rainbow is a psychedelic trip of a girl escaping from a hospital. Rainbow has the feel of a movie filmed in the late 60’s using 21st century equipment with an 80’s electronic synth soundtrack. Cosmatos’s new movie is cut from the same clothe as Beyond the Black Rainbow.
Red, played by Nicolas Cage, is a lumberjack who lives with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough, Nocturnal Animals). The two live in an idyllic forest living out their days reading, cutting down trees, and talking about planets. Things could go on this way for a long time, but their peace is shattered after Jeremiah Sand takes a shine to Mandy. Sand is a cult leader and a former folk singer. Apparently, Sand isn’t good at either one. He never made it as a singer and has only 6 followers in his cult.
The psychedelic blasts of oranges and blues start as soon as Red walks out of the forest from his logging job. Is it a sign that something bad is going to soon happen? That would be one argument if the bright colors and lights started only after Red starts his quest for revenge.
Unlike a lot of revenge and home invasion movies there’s an actual reason why Jeremiah Sand has his eyes set on Mandy. It’s a totally messed up reason only a madman could rationalize, but it’s a reason. Jeremiah wants to have sex with her because his current “wife” isn’t doing it for him anymore. Mandy, drugged with a high dose of LSD, laughs off his advances. It does not end well for Mandy.
Mandy is a violent movie. The bright colors, blasts of light, and trippy scenes don’t do anything to lessen the intensity of the gore and violence in the movie. In fact, the bright colors only highlight the blood and violence. Mandy is also a hallucination of a revenge movie.
Red is forced to watch Mandy be burned in front of him. The hippy kid gloves come off soon afterwards. Red’s path of vengeance lasts the rest of the movie. The rest of the movie is a violent storm surrounded by bright lights, slow motion shots, and extreme close ups.
Red is perhaps Nicolas Cage’s best role since his highly publicized financial meltdown. Cage doesn’t have a lot of lines in the movie so he has to rely on the one other skills he possess as an actor- his incredibly over the top facial expressions. These expressions are on full display. In Mandy, unlike some of his other movies, his facial expressions, groans, and screams convey more than any line could ever do.
You’ll be inclined to think Mandy is a great movie. It’s definitely a unique movie. The already mentioned psychedelic trips automatically puts it ahead of most of the movies in the revenge genre. Spliced between scenes are title cards introducing characters. Even more unique for a revenge movie are the movie’s animated scenes.
If we take away the bright colors and psychedelic distractions we’ll find Mandy is just another revenge movie albeit a very cool looking revenge movie. In the end it’s still a revenge movie that will appeal mainly to Cosmatos fans. The typical fan of the revenge movie won’t be interested in the art house feel of a genre known mainly for blood and guts.