Tag Archives: Panos Cosmatos

Review: Mandy

Director(s)Panos Cosmatos
Principal CastNicholas Cage as Red
Andrea Riseborough as Mandy Bloom
Linus Roache as Jeremiah Sand
Release Date 2018
Running Time121 minutes

This is a hard movie to review and not spoil because so much of the experience requires thorough explanation to properly make sense of the sheer scope of what’s being communicated. Mandy is almost best understood as two separate stories: one about a couple, Red and Mandy, and their tranquil domestic experience being ripped apart by a drugged out cult; second about Red’s revenge tour after the events of what happens. Both stories work to give each other weight and you come to appreciate how the movie is laid out after subsequent re-watches.

Cosmatos relishes in provoking the audience to think without ever preaching a lesson to them. There are strange, unexplainable images that’ll have you asking what everything really means. Certain shots bleed into other shots creating a surreal experience, as reality and fantasy switch without warning. In spite of this ambiguity, the movie never forgets to tell a compelling story, so the events that happen always make sense. The allegory/meaning never comes at the cost of the story, which gives the movie an edge over something like mother!, a movie I think tackles very similar subject matter. Yes, there’s a clear thriller revenge story, but underneath the surface Mandy is an exploration of humanity’s relation to transcendence (God) and Nature. Mandy, Red, and the leader of the cult, Jeremiah are all stand-ins for different explorations of these ideas and watching them clash and evolve seems to be a Cosmatos’s prophecy for our future. Saying any more would spoil the movie, but if you enjoy discussions of this sort or liked mother! ,this movie has a lot to offer.

The movie is a stunning audio-visual experience that’s dripping in personality. There are very distinct colors and hues that appear during key moments and the way those colors are tied and utilized in relation to each other lends itself to an poignant style that conveys a lot of meaning at the same time. During the third act, there are evocative animations that make use of the color scheme but also give the movie a distinct fairy tail feeling. There are fun over-the-top action scenes that make full use of the R Rating. Sound design is mesmerizing and the score always manages to lull you into the screen, no matter the circumstance.

Cosmatos is one of the few directors I’ve seen who seems to know how to channel Cage’s ferocity and absurd antics. He gives the actor the room to breathe and really take over the movie in the latter half of it. To Cage’s credit, he’s reserved, calm, and seems like he’s trying to recover from trauma in the first half of the movie, so his snap into his more familiar high energy acting patterns feels cathartic. Watching him absolutely lose it and throw all his energy into his revenge scheme is a hell of a lot of fun and is well worth the slower first half. Similarly, Riseborough gives off an life-affirming vibe from the moment she’s introduced and compliments Cage well. Their relationship is authentic and cute to watch develop, so later developments hit as hard as they need to.

My only issue with the movie is this one sub-plot that feels incredibly out of place. It’s the transition point between the two stories and ruins the immersive hypnotic feeling the movie had been building up till that point. It also dumps a lot of exposition which I thought was a bit too much information. It’s not all bad and has some funny moments, but I wish it didn’t happen so I could have just stayed in the zone from start to finish.

Report Card

TLDRMandy is a neon infused revenge thriller about a man on a quest for vengeance looking for members of the drugged out gang that intruded on his peaceful, loving relationship. It’s entertaining, stylish, and dripping with subtext about humanity’s relationship to religion and the environment.
Grade A+

I have a more in depth piece about this coming soon, so check back later for a spoiler discussion.