Movie review: 'Mandy'

Brad Keefe
Nicolas Cage in "Mandy"

We live in a weird and terrifying time, but at least I'm grateful we live in a time when a movie like “Mandy” gets made.

It's a 2018 experience that joins “Sorry to Bother You” in terms of the post-movie feeling, “What did I just see?” In a good way.

Lest I set your bar of expectation too high, know that “Mandy” is some kind of avant-garde horror film with an appeal that will mostly fit in a weird sliver of the Venn diagram.

Oh, and did I mention Nicolas Cage? Yeah, it stars Nicolas Cage in a performance that's unhinged even by his standards.

What follows is a spoiler-free synopsis that doesn't ruin any of the fun of “Mandy,” because there's a lot you don't want to know here.

It's the mid-'80s. Red Miller (Cage) is a lumberjack who lives a secluded life in the mountains with his girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough).

Red and Mandy are quiet, thoughtful people. He cuts down trees. She reads novels, draws and works in a small store. They live alone in a beautiful cabin, and they have a beautiful relationship.

Then, as tends to happen to people in beautiful relationships in movies like this, things go wildly awry.

Events push Red into another realm in a search for vengeance that can only be powered by true love.

With “Mandy,” writer-director Panos Cosmatos (“Beyond the Black Rainbow”) has done something too rare in modern cinema. He's created something that's truly unlike anything I've ever seen before.

It's ostensibly in the horror genre, but there's also a surprisingly tender love story that emerges, largely due to Riseborough's outstanding supporting performance.

For an hour, “Mandy” is an atmospheric creeper, beautifully shot and highly reminiscent of the more terrifying aspects of David Lynch's work. Yes, that's high praise from me.

Cage is mostly quiet in the movie's first half. He is not so quiet in the second half.

“Mandy” gives way to a classic revenge tale at that point, piling on extreme violence and just utter, wonderful weirdness. You'll either be along for the ride or not, but you better buckle up.

There's existential and psychedelic weirdness all so gorgeously shot you could enjoy it with the sound off. It's like “2001” meets splatter gore.

Cage is at his most Cage. My friend Adam gave the move 5 out of 5 Nicolas Cages. He's incredible in that off-the-rails manner he does so well. Oh, and he's not even the best performance.

I put “Mandy” in a special category I reserve for films like “Apocalypse Now.” It has flaws but aims for the sun.


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5 stars out of 5