Wednesday 7 November 2018

Mandy (USA 2018: Dir Panos Kosmatos)

Panos Kosmatos's belated follow up to 2010's  Beyond the Black Rainbow is a self consciously 'out there' film so in love with its own otherness it forgets to be interesting. Mandy wants to be immersive and shocking, but it's so lacking in wit and wisdom that it becomes one long (very long) slog to the finish line. Yeah, I didn't like it.

Nicolas Cage is Red Miller, a lumberjack with a dark past living in a possibly mythic location called The Shadow Mountains, who seems finally to have found happiness in artist Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). The scars on Mandy's face also suggest she has a story to tell.

The pair spend nights in bed talking about the planets and the cosmos, but their idyllic state is severely compromised when cult leader and ex-singer Jeremiah Sand - boss of a Manson-like group called Children of the New Dawn - takes a shine to Red's girlfriend. Sand orders Mandy's capture by a Cenobite-like biker gang called the Black Skulls, and after Sand fails to seduce her by playing some of his music and stripping naked in front of her (triggering much mirth from Ms Riseborough) she is murdered. Red, racked with an almost psychotic remorse, vows revenge on Mandy's killers leading to an LSD fueled gory fight to the death.

I should have found Mandy fun. I should have found it a romp. I didn't. It feels like a film that's just trying too hard to be esoteric, and while some scenes had a certain appeal - a chainsaw fight, the 'cheddar goblin' fake advert, the hallucinatory face swapping scene between Jeremiah and Mandy - for the most part it's just too overloaded to be enjoyable, even down to Jóhann Jóhannsson’s unsubtle score.

On the plus side, Kosmatos's overwrought dialogue, design and content is at least perfect for Cage's hyper-kinetic performance. It's the same shtick he's deployed in a dozen other movies, but in Mandy it's just one more over the top thing in a film whose business is excess. A sequence where Miller, grieving the loss of his girlfriend while intermittently swigging vodka, dousing his wounds and primally screaming on the toilet, would in most other movies be worthy of note. Here it's just another scene. Andrea Riseborough seems rather wasted in the role of Mandy, although several closeups of her face, her huge eyes staring impassively but rather creepily, make it obvious why she was cast (it's also good to see her in a role where she isn't heavily disguised).

Yes it looks good - well good's probably the wrong word - it looks hellish; and you'll enjoy the colour palette if you like the colour red, in what I'm guessing is a nod to Argento.

But really, so bloody what? Maybe I need to see this again (unlikely), but its charms were totally lost on me, and I left the cinema rather annoyed at the vacuity I had just witnessed. 

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