Mandy : A Phantasmagoric Journey Filled With Vengeance & Laced With Fire
A haunting, hypnotic & hallucinatory arthouse endeavour pierced with retro aesthetics, trippy performances and a psychedelic score that viewers will either embrace wholeheartedly or reject outright, Mandy actually has a very generic premise but its magic lies in the perfect sync between its visual & aural elements, both of which are braided into its fabric with such fineness that they add a symbolic weight to the whole experience.
A phantasmagoric journey filled with a bloody vengeance & laced with fire, Mandy is a stylishly directed, vividly photographed, manically acted & impeccably scored arthouse endeavour that comes pre-loaded with crazy characters, trippy visuals & gonzo violence, and is powered by a truly manic performance from the one n only Nicolas Cage.
Set in the primal wilderness of the 1980s, the story of Mandy follows a man who lives a quiet, peaceful life with his girlfriend in a secluded cabin in the woods. But when a deviant cult invades his little paradise and takes away what was dearest to him, he discards his sanity, goes on a killing spree, and leaves behind a bloody, brutal pile of bodies in his wake.
Co-written & directed by Panos Cosmatos, Mandy packs a simple, straightforward plot but the swirling visual & aural elements enveloping this story add a symbolic weight to the final print. Unfolding like a drug-induced dream, the film offers an immersive experience to anyone willing to go with the flow but there’s no denying that this isn’t a film for all.
Every pixel of every frame is imbued with old-school aesthetics. Images are bursting with radiant hues. Lighting is top-notch. The camerawork is as controlled as it is infectious. Editing is a mixed bag, for few scenes tend to linger on for far too long. But the highlight for me is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s synth score that heightens the mood, aura & eccentricity of this acid-fuelled ride with its powerful, poignant & psychedelic tracks.
As for the performances, Mandy is steered by Nicolas Cage’s singular showcase that mixes real emotions with bizarre the same way this film blends reality with illusion. It’s a tailor-made role for Cage and the actor goes absolutely bonkers with his character. Those in as members of the cult play their idiosyncratic parts without holding anything back while Andrea Riseborough contributes with a measured input in the titular role.
On an overall scale, Mandy is a haunting, hypnotic & hallucinatory cinema pierced with elements of action & horror that viewers will either embrace wholeheartedly or reject outright. Definitely not a film for everyone despite its generic plot being accessible for the most part, the magic of Mandy lies in the perfect sync between its visual & aural elements, both of which are braided into its fabric with such fine delicacy that they augment each other from the first frame to the last.
P.S. The soundtrack of this film is also a strong reminder of how big a loss Jóhann Jóhannsson has been to the film music industry, for he was a rare artist who was marked for greatness and was only getting started.