To say that Panos Cosmatos shocked and thrilled audiences with Mandy, this evening, would be a gross understatement. The director’s sophomore feature is a somewhere between a heroic epic and an acid trip, and as the movie itself quotes, it’s nothing less than “strange and eternal”.
Set in a backwoods location in the 80s, Red (Nicolas Cage) falls for the ethereal Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), but their pleasant lives are dramatically shattered when she’s kidnapped and burned alive by a cult of religious zealots led by the deliciously delusional Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). His new MO in life is to track down the members of the cult and their associates, a gang of monstrous inhuman beings who roam the forest on motorbikes, and kill them. Let’s not forget all the psychedelics and almost comically horrific killings that are peppered throughout. Cosmatos goes balls-to-the-wall, establishing a trademark style via his particular use of light, sound, and colour which amplify the outrageous fantasy world he creates.
The soundscape is a living, breathing element of Mandy, present throughout and constantly firing off tonal cues for the audience. At times terrifying and at others inspirational, the music not only informs the emotional life of the film, it influences it. Heavy metal chords bolster Red in his vengeance journey while chill 60s rock defines the easiness in which the Jeremiah hopes his principles are accepted with. Distortions in the characters’ voices when they’re high further illustrates the world of the cult. Similarly, an alternative world-space is created by layering in ghosts, images which drag on to create a continuous effect in the picture. That, coupled with the prevalent use of the colour red, makes for a highly stylised world; one which is designed and lit to be reminiscent of the prevailing symbol of fire in the film.
One of the most wonderful and surprising elements is Nicolas Cage’s performance as Red. He takes on the classic hero role and brings the life-saving amount of humour necessary for Mandy to succeed. He slips into the fantastical spirit of the film and strikes the perfect balance between being a realistic hero and embracing the over-the-top absurdity that is the plot.
Mandy is a risky move but the bigger the risk the bigger the payoff, right? Although weird and aggressive – and at times just plain gross – it easily has the potential to talk on cult following and become the stuff of legends.
Mandy does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.