I don’t even know where to begin with Mandy. Imagine two hours of a bad LSD trip and that is essentially what you’ll get from this movie. I mean, literally almost all of the characters were tripping on LSD throughout most of the film. I’m going to try and dive into this thing the best I can but it honestly is just something you have to see for yourself.
In full transparency, prior to last night I had never even heard of this movie. The fiancé and I were going to get dinner and decided to enjoy a spontaneous movie date night at the Alamo Drafthouse where we could enjoy both dinner and a movie. Mandy just happened to be the next movie showing. To our surprise, it was almost entirely sold out and starring Nicholas Cage, which could mean just about anything. We decided to take our chances with it and see what everyone else was so excited for.
If you’ve seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and think it is the trippiest movie ever, you ain’t seen nothing yet my friend.
Mandy opens with an extra-long intro for the cast members with faded colors and font fitted with retro music, heavily portraying a late 70s-early 80s vibes. Once you hear Reagan on the radio of Nick Cage’s bad ass bronco, you get an understanding of the time period it’s set in. Enjoy that though because it’s one of the only outside sources of information you will get in reference to this story.
It starts fairly slow, showcasing the romance between Nick Cage and his partner as they enjoy their life of solitude and peacefulness deep in the remote woods of a mining/lumber town. Nick’s lover Mandy, played by Andrea Riseborough, is depicted as an artist and lover of sci-fi novels. A cult leader happens to make eye contact with her as his crew of cult-worshiping weirdos pass by in their culty van. He immediately gains an infatuation and must have her.
I won’t go any further as to exactly what happens next but I will say, at the heart of this movie it is your classic revenge story. Mandy does an excellent job of depicting a retro grind-house style vengeance movie. From burning characters alive, axe slaughtering, skull crushing and even a chainsaw duel, Mandy doesn’t hold back on emphasizing creatively with gore. Other than being outrageously trippy, the main gripe I had with this movie was the way Nick took vengeance on his enemies. Don’t get me wrong, he got very creative in his elimination tactics but I am under the belief that a great revenge story needs more than justice, it needs eye-for-an-eye justice. The only way to execute that perfectly is to do worse to your enemy than they did to you and I just don’t feel that happened.
The best part of Mandy was surely the cinematography and score. This movie had light work that I have seldom seen done before and it was absolutely beautiful. The lights played perfectly with the retro horror and synth style soundtrack that was excellently used to emphasize the audience’s emotions. This entire movie was almost just a music video for Johann Johannsson’s music. Although it was simplistic and grounded in its premise, Mandy presented a truly science fiction theme to follow Mandy’s novel that was surprisingly well executed.
Per usual, the Chairgatin’ movie review scoring system consist of American flag recliners, which are good for obvious reasons, and fedoras which are bad, also for obvious reasons. 5 recliners represent the best and 5 fedoras represent the worst. I’m awarding Mandy three and a half recliners; a visually stunning film that put you on an LSD rollercoaster.
Most of the time it seems weird movies just try and confuse the audience for the sake of being different. Mandy however, was weird as well as stunning and actually drew you in with its weirdness. Leaving the theater, I heard literal applause and praise as well as, “that was the worst movie I have ever seen,” so don’t be surprised by polarizing reviews.
I give credit to everyone that was involved in this movie. It was definitely something different that surely plenty of movie goers were bound to hate. Regardless, the cinematography was spectacular, the score was amazing and all the performances by the actors were great. If you don’t want to see a weird and somewhat confusing movie, you might want to skip this one. If you enjoy movies like Drive however, I would definitely recommend seeing this in a theater if it is playing near you because you will want to fully enjoy the imagery and sounds.