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Mandy Review Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage has a phallic chainsaw dual in a work of art.

A lumberjack (Nicolas Cage) lives a peaceful reflective life with his artist partner Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in a woodland cabin. When she catches the eye of an insane, insecure cult leader (Linus Roache), he and his followers, helped by a demonic biker gang, kidnap and destroy her, leaving the lumberjack for dead. In despair and fury he forges a battle axe and tracks them down to enact a bloody revenge…

Director Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos who made the great Tombstone) establishes himself here as one of modern cinema’s most interesting visual artists. It’s all set in a dreamlike 1980s that’s both mellow and menacing, with striking hypnotic visuals (right down to the onscreen chapter-title cards). It’s underscored by a constant droning era soundtrack that haunts with its love theme and flares up to punctuate the madness (the Icelandic composer has sadly since died). The visuals are constantly experimenting in effective ways, from juxtaposing the faces of two people in conversation to the jarring unstylised master shot showing Cage having a bathroom breakdown immediately after the attack.

In the often hyper-stylised version of reality, with the ramblings of the thin-skinned cult leader and his fawning drugged-up followers, Nicolas Cage is for a time the most normal thing onscreen. But he soon absorbs the cosmic darkness and descends into blood-splattered insanity (while the film itself becomes more narratively straightforward following one-by-one revenge). Cage is luckier to have this film than vice versa. He’s hurt his currency with endless terrible films, and his onscreen rage meltdowns have become familiar. The filmmaker is good enough to have carried another actor on that journey of madness, and having one who hadn’t gone this route before would have added to the originality displayed in other departments. That’s not to say Cage isn’t effective, or that it isn’t his best film for years.

Grade: B+

Mandy is out now on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital Download.


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