A retro-obsessed director and an '80s icon team up for a hallucinatory axe-wielding fantasy lovingly crafted for a niche audience.
What more can Nicolas Cage, who has already given us so much bug-eyed craziness, provide? What more does he need to? In the case of psychedelic revenge fantasy Mandy, the answer is a meltdown in a bathroom: a single take during which Cage, snug in his tighty-whities, appears to down a whole bottle of vodka while crying and emitting animal screams. Then his grieving character forges a scimitar—not kidding—and goes on the hunt, Conan the Barbarian–style, for a gang of Manson-like killers who slayed the love of his life, the gentle Mandy (Andrea Riseborough).
Getting to that point in the movie requires commitment, not simply because it’s well after an hour but also because writer-director Panos Cosmatos is evidently working out some kind of fixation he has on cultural detritus circa 1983. (There’s even a lovingly crafted commercial for a product called Cheddar Goblin, just a glimmer on a TV, that will haunt your soul forever.) This affection for dreamy sci-fi nightscapes, Tor paperback covers and ghostly King Crimson tunes makes Mandy a geek’s breakfast, far from your typical piece of star-slumming action.
But Cosmatos needs you to be charitable toward his performances. Or, barring that, he needs you to be stoned. Many will oblige: Mandy is an instant midnight mood, graced by a thickly menacing synth score by composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario), whose recent death from a drug overdose robs us of not only a singular talent but also an obvious superfan of Vangelis.
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Cast and crew