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…
Actually, you know what, on second thought, this movie sounds violent and gross and awful. Bodies are savaged? Flesh is burned? PILES of cocaine? Get real and grow up, guys — this is awful, violent, gratuitous garbage, and I refuse to support it. What happens when a kid sees this? Studies probably show that watching awful, violent, gratuitous garbage turns children into savage gangbangers and addicted drug users who won’t listen to reason. Who’s allowing this? Where’s the government? When I see movies like this, I can’t believe what’s happening to our country. We used to have values and principles, we cared for our neighbors, and everyone kept their doors unlocked. We’d didn’t snort PILES of cocaine or burn flesh. We wore our tighty-whities UNDERNEATH our garments — and that’s why they’re called UNDERgarments. You see, America: this is what happens when we let reality TV become reality.
Please, don’t watch this movie.
Mandy premieres in theaters on September 14.