[Review] ‘Mandy’ is an Insanely Wonderful Acid Trip

Jason McDonald

I have to confess that prior to seeing “Mandy” I had not seen a single trailer for it.  The most I knew was that it was a Nicolas Cage movie with a lot of buzz surrounding it.  Given that it’s a been while since anyone could say that about a Cage movie, I was willing to dive into “Mandy” without hearing anymore about it.  If you somehow find yourself in the same situation, then I encourage you to just go ahead and watch Mandy. Don’t bother looking up anymore about it, the less you know the more weird the experience will be.

In “Mandy” Red (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) have their blissfully secluded life devastated by a roaming band of zealots.  With only one course of action left to him, Red sets out a mission of revenge.

The plot of Mandy is about as straightforward one would expect for a revenge movie.  After being wronged, Red tears across the countryside looking to kill all those in his way.  In terms of narrative, the film is about as basic as you could be.  However, that plain simple narrative provides the white canvas for all the craziness to be layered on to.

Now, when I say crazy I don’t mean zany over the top action like an “Evil Dead.”  Instead I mean bizarre artistic choices that’ll make you feel like someone slipped you some acid.  Imagine scenes where for five minutes everything is purple.  Or seemingly inane objects have crazy pulsating green lights layered on them.  How about long shots where people’s faces blend together in such a suitable way that you can’t tell where one begins and another one ends.  And that’s just all the visual stuff, we haven’t even touched on the dialog that gets spouted out through the course of the movie.

Just about every direction in this movie is the result of someone asking “Is this crazy enough?”  As a result a movie that could be told in about an hour gets extended out to two hours.  “Mandy” has no problems with meandering around as it delves into its world of weird artistic expression.  It bathes in strange color palettes and stares in awe at its only visual beauty.

And then when the film is finally satisfied it unleashes Nicolas Cage and reveals another type of crazy.

We’re all very familiar with how crazy Cage can get and this film is a masterful representation of his madness.  The film doesn’t take Cage beyond his normal level of crazy, but instead focuses it and presents it in this truly bizarre situations.  At its best it’ll remind you of some of the absurdity that Ash Williams got up to in the Evil Dead. He’s raw and brazen in all the ways that I love about a Nicolas Cage performance.  The movie is also smart about how it handles him as it just doesn’t constantly dull out Cage, but instead releases him in controlled bursts to maximize the impact.

“Mandy” is a movie that I absolutely loved, but would have a hard time recommending to just about anyone.  If you want to experience a bizarre psychedelic trip where Nicolas Cage has classic freakouts, then this movie will satisfy in every way.  I don’t know if “Mandy” is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year, but it is certainly one of the more wild experiences I’ve had.

“Mandy” is currently out on VOD.


4 / 5 stars     


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