Watched Mandy twice this weekend. Would recommend.
The story is very straight-forward, but filtered through Panos Cosmatos’ trance-inducing, acid-trip aesthetic, so it’s easy to see why it might confuse anyone unfamiliar with his previous film, Beyond The Black Rainbow.
Minor gripe: The first act drags. Even Cosmatos’ visual style isn’t enough to make the exposition feel fresh. The titular character Mandy has to be sacrificed to reach the inspired, violent retribution lurking in the second half. If that revenge scenario seems well-worn, it won’t once Cosmatos and Cage unleash their wildest instincts on the material.
All that said, the film feels a bit cathartic in new age of social conservative rule. After what feels like a seemingly-endless cycle of stories detailing sexual assault, cover-up, and false equivocation from the “moral majority,” Mandy felt like an axe to the face of all the Franklin Grahams of the world.
In an early scene, Nic Cage’s character (Red) turns off conservative talk radio as President Reagan (the film is set in 1983) issues platitudes on morality, abortion, and pornography.
Red and Mandy shut off the sanctimonious ramblings of the far-right and live with their imagination in the wilderness. They listen to heavy metal, they read novels about wizards and demons, they watch campy horror films, and they commune with nature.
The film’s antagonist is a Jesus freak, cult leader who identifies Mandy as one of his “children of the new dawn” (aka weird religious sex cult).
For those tired of hearing the religious-right bloviate about “religious liberty” selectively and ONLY when they feel it applies to them, Red and Mandy’s run-in with The Children of The New Dawn feels like secular worst fears manifest, but that makes the subsequent drug-binge/killing-spree all the more glorious.
Whether or not that was intentional or my subjective reading of the material, a bloodied Cage marching confidently into a glowing-red church, doom metal overwhelming the soundtrack, ax in hand, high on vodka, cocaine, and LSD is probably the religious-right’s worse fears manifest, so call it a wash.
Check it out.
- Samuel David Farmer