Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Risenborough, Linus Roache
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
If you study closely Nicolas Cage’s vast filmography — more than 70 movies spanning three decades — you would notice that he has two distinctive screen personas: one who is ‘regular loony’ (see Raising Arizona and Face/Off), the other uninhibitedly loony (check out Vampire’s Kiss and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans).
Cage’s latest, Mandy, falls squarely in the latter category. The 1980s-set movie revolves around Cage’s Red, a lumberjack who lives in the woods with his artist girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But their peaceful existence is shattered when Mandy is kidnapped by an evil sect (led by Linus Roache). And Red now wants payback…
The first half of the movie is slow but strangely surreal: picture a ̕80s power metal music video story-boarded by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta and brought to life by David Lynch. In the second half, things get more hellish as Red, with a little help of psychedelic drugs, goes full-blown batshit crazy as he takes on his attackers with a crossbow, an axe and a chainsaw.
Mandy is easy to describe, but hard to sit through. At its Sundance premiere, half the audience bailed, while at Cannes, it received a five-minute standing ovation. The unsettling revenge thriller, by Italian-Canadian writer-director Pano Cosmatos, is bound to polarise; you either hate it or like it enough to finish it.
All the while, you feel like you’re watching something illegal and dangerous caught on film. Or maybe you’re just having a lucid dream. You can’t tell which is which. (***1/2)
Photo: Shaw Organisation