Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

In Review: Mandy

Director: Panos Cosmatos


Nicolas Cage doesn’t deal in half measures. His choice of projects nowadays can cause the eyes to roll, but from time to time he picks something that sparks genuine intrigue. Mandy is one of those projects. Whilst some actors crank their volumes up to eight, or even nine, here Cage chooses to aim for eighteen. The fans call it the infamous “Cage Rage”, and Mandy has it in spades; he well and truly lets loose and treats the film as his own personal stress ball.

Mandy is the second film from Panos Cosmatos, the visionary director behind 2010’s Beyond The Black Rainbow. Two films in and Cosmatos is already carving his path as an auteur, with a striking visual style that feels equally vintage and futuristic.  More so in Mandy, which is beautiful, psychedelic and batshit crazy.

The plot is, admittedly, quite thin. This is the revenge flick in its purest form. Red (Cage) and his girlfriend, the metalhead illustrator Mandy played superbly by Andrea Riseborough, live together in a rural, isolated woodland in the Pacific Northwest. Things seem tranquil until Mandy crosses paths with a band of religious acid-freak hippies: Children of the New Dawn. Their frightening leader Jeremiah (Linus Roache, also fantastic) wants Mandy and tasks his cult in acquiring her.

That is ultimately where the plot ends and the chaos begins. Ultra-violence ensues, and it is so entertaining that the lack of narrative is almost forgotten. The cast are effective in helping Cosmatos to create a nightmarish, drug-soaked world where satanic bikers and creepy pharmaceutical chemists roam free. The action scenes are glorious, with Cage recruiting some awesome weapons (including a huge battle axe and a crossbow called “The Reaper”) that Games Workshop frequenters will drool over. There’s a chainsaw battle that nods to The Evil Dead franchise, gallons of blood, lots of memorable scenes with Cage screaming maniacally, and a stunning soundtrack from the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. He blends in ambient, electronic and prog so well, perfectly complimenting the dark, retro eye-candy on display.

To truly experience this slice of pulp, Grindhouse-esque cinema, it needs to be witnessed on the big screen. If you enjoy wordy, complicated films with meandering plots, you may not acceptMandy into your heart. However, if you want entertainment and an unforgettable two hours of madness - well, frankly, you’ll be in heaven.

If I had to describe the film in two words, I would quote Red’s friend Caruthers: “weird shit.” LA

Film, In ReviewLuke AllenComment