‘Mandy’: Dripping in absolute style

A dramatic chainsaw fighting scene in Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy.” (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

There are films that are great because they challenge the audience, develop fully three-dimensional characters, and are remarkably crafted. Then there are films that are great because they are dripping in absolute style. Panos Cosmatos’ sophomore film “Mandy” is the latter.

“Mandy” follows Red (Nicolas Cage) as he resorts to extreme acts of violence to avenge the murder of his girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), by a demonic cult led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). As simple as the plot of the film is, the various vignettes of violence and absurdity are so captivating that they hold the audience’s attention throughout the film.

These moments includes things like The Cheddar Goblin, Nicholas Cage snorting a Scarface-level amount of cocaine after decapitating a demon biker, an extended drug trip sequence, and a chainsaw fight. These unmistakably unique and incredible moments are caught by Cosmatos’ grandiose camera that paints the film’s visuals in a sea of crimson and purple, giving the film a pulpy feel I have never seen before.

For all the film’s insanity, its pacing is rather subdued. While the film is often balls-to-the-walls crazy, it also contains long shots of serene and genuine beauty that give the audience some breathing room, in the midst of the film’s outrageous violence and demented concepts.

However, none of the film’s marvelous moments and style would work quite as well as they do without the lead performances from Nicholas Cage and Andrea Riseborough. Cage is an actor whose sheer commitment and lunacy in his performances can often lead to unintentional comedy, but in “Mandy,” Cage’s bizarre nature and broad range of emotions match the exact mood and visuals of the film.

His in-your-face nature leads to what can only be described as the best performance of an often misunderstood career. On the other hand, Riseborough, a relative newcomer, brings a sense of warmth and love that grounds the audience in the emotional core of the film’s otherwise insane viewing experience.

At the end of the day, what makes “Mandy” such an incredible experience is quite simple. The film absolutely rules — it slaps, bangs, hits, and rocks. Everything about the film’s style and craft are uniquely strange and incredibly engrossing. “Mandy,” is not only the coolest film of the year; it is also possibly one of the best.


Ben Hafetz is a media studies and politics double major at Pitzer College. He likes to not only see movies, but also tell his friends why they should or should not like certain ones.

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