Sometimes I ask myself, do I need to understand a movie like Mandy to like it? Do I need to know the questions it asks, and the answers it provides? Is it necessary to realise the meaning of the film in order to find it thought provoking, good or at least interesting? I asked myself all those questions, and many more, right after I finished watching this strange film.
The first paragraph makes it seem like Mandy’s point was lost to me. It is not completely true because I’m fairly certain I got some of it. It’s all just very vague and it’s buried under crazy cinematography. Because while the movie heavily focuses on over styling itself visually, it forgets to connect with the viewer. Character and story building are sidelined and the visual experience becomes the norm. With that heavy divide between the visual and the plot, Mandy sets itself apart. But does it do so in a good way?
Mandy is a horror film written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, and directed by Cosmatos and Chris Kelly. For me, all of these names are unknown. The Italian director Cosmatos could be known for his 2010 debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow, but I have not seen that film. So based solely on Mandy, I’d say this director has an unique style. And together with cinematographer Benjamin Loeb, this style explodes on screen.
I’m your god now!
– Red Miller
With bold colour choices and stunning lighting techniques, Mandy is definitely anything but boring. It is slightly dark at times, but with just one small light source, it does manage to create a very eerie atmosphere. But like I said, the plot escaped me a little. Mandy starts by showing us a couple, Red (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), living a quiet life. Then a strange cult, lead by Jeremiah (Linus Roache), drives by Mandy, and its leader becomes obsessed with her. But instead of kidnapping Mandy themselves, the cult hires demons to do the job for them, and well, then things get a bit more weird.
The violence that follows is expected. Nicolas Cage also goes a bit over the top at times, but you know what, also expected and actually much appreciated. With so many unknown names, Cage does stand out from the cast, but I also thought Riseborough did a wonderful job as Mandy. The scene were Jeremiah tries to get Mandy to join him, is brilliant. I liked that scene because even with such a strange plot, it felt empowering to have a female character immune to whatever Jeremiah was up to.
Overall, the film does feel like something that would appeal to many. For me, it did captivate me because it looked so different, but otherwise, I was left a little disappointed. I’ve been recently very critical of movies. This would be unknown to you, since I haven’t reviewed anything for months. But with Mandy I felt that even while some of the movie didn’t connect with me, it was at least interesting. And isn’t that the point sometimes? To enjoy the movie for what it’s worth, even if it doesn’t appeal to you completely? I think it’s fair to say that we should allow movies to do that. So, I enjoyed Mandy… I just didn’t like it.