I HAVE A FRIEND who unironically loves Nic Cage, and what I’ve found most precious about his fanship is that he’s completely unaware of the significance of his unirony: he just straight-up loves Nic Cage because how could you not love Nic Cage? It’s not some attention-seeking, contrarian gesture. It’s genuine and, honestly, kind of weird. But with the new trailer for Mandy, the second film by filmmaker Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow), I’m actually siding with my buddy on this one: Nic Cage looks his psychotic, psychedelic best here, and, well… I think I’m open to giving love another try with Nicolas.
As one of the most talked about films from January’s Sundance Film Festival, Mandy already had plenty word-of-mouth hype preceding the trailer release. The movie’s early success is partially due Nic Cage’s “return to form” gonzo performance, as well as Panos Cosmatos’ “uncompromisingly” frank portrayal of can’t-look-away outrageous, bizarre-O material. It’s about as high art as horror gore porn gets.
From the director of 2010’s beautiful, batshit instaclassic Beyond the Black Rainbow, I’d expect as much.
The plot to Mandy is simple: Red (Nicolas Cage) meets Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), Red loses Mandy to a bizarre, psychosexual cult, Red goes on a Nic-Cage-rage rampage. The vibe is very Mad Max: Fury Road, very heavy metal, with an eldritch mystic twist — and it’s this twist on an otherwise standard revenge plot that makes any of this at all interesting. Yet, while the film’s unique imagery owes much to Cosmatos’ 80’s-colored psychotropic palette, Nic Cage’s contrasting physicality seems to not only energize but anchor the film’s violently artistic (artistically violent) aesthetic. In his review on Mandy, Rob Hunter says:
Grieving in tighty-whities while screaming. Bodies are savaged. Flesh is burned. PILES of cocaine. These are the scenic descriptions a film made by a filmmaker who actually enjoys making film. And with the horrors of the everyday news cycle now out-competing violent entertainment (and it is a competition, sickly enough), no doubt there’s pressure on entertainers to pack their craft with whatever trendy altruism’s currently in fashion. Fortunately, Mandy seems to exist strictly for itself, almost masturbatorally so …but in a good way. It’s the type of masturbation that’s pleasing for everyone to watch alone in the dark.
Mandy premieres in theaters on September 14.