A psychotronic potion so committed to its own combination of high/low/trash/art aesthetics, it’s no wonder us carnivorous cinephiles eat this up like a hallucinogen-tinged three course dinner. Cosmatos’ loyalty to his own metronomic sense of drone pacing might turn a lot of genre-heads off, but it may also hypnotise a few into loving new types of film, where images overthrow narrative or basic viscera as primary stimulation. I can see Mandy being a big gateway drug for the right set of eyeballs, it’s the kind of singular experience that makes you ask, “Wait, you can make films like this?”
This is exactly the kind of heightened wizard’s spell of a movie Nicolas Cage is at home in. He syncs up so precisely with what Cosmatos is trying to do, it should come as no surprise to find that this has inspired a deluge of long overdue “Nicolas Cage is actually one of the greatest actors of his time” takes. As Red (surely named after the King Crimson album of the same name, no?) he is a hulking bear of a man, not far from his turn in David Gordon Green’s Joe, only if you took that character and dropped him into the seven circles of genre hell. This is one of the best performances of the year and, I suspect, one that will gain Cage a lot of added respect and understanding moving forward. Mandy takes you into the Nicolas Cage world of pain.
Like Cage, Cosmatos’ isn’t afraid of a good tightrope. He toes the line between pretension and absurdity with such confidence that you don’t care if his foot slips over too eagerly into one or the other here and there. The images are so potent that you’re actually glad for all the indulgences. Any extra time spent swimming in Cosmatos’ obsessions is a plus in my book. He knows restraint, when to let one frame tell the story but he also doesn’t deny you some good old fashioned face-melting and maximalist thrills should the occasion call for it. One hell of a movie, with hell visualised as a bad LSD trip filtered through a lava lamp and scored to slowcore prog sludge metal. Buy the ticket. Take the ride.