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Set in the Pacific north-west in 1983, Mandy has two sections. The first is a simmering slow burn that fixes its gaze on heavy metal lovers Andrea Riseborough and Nicolas Cage as they are stalked and seduced by a satanic cult and their motorcycle-riding henchmen. The second sees the film mutate into a full-boil revenge thriller that rewards its audience with, among other things, a bloody chainsaw duel, exploding grey goo and a live tiger.
There are many things to enjoy here, not least the force of Cage’s performance as incensed lumberjack Red (and, it must be said, his scream). Evocative, too, is the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s threatening prog-rock score. As an audiovisual experience, it’s certainly entertaining, and perhaps even destined for cult success, but I’m not sure its metalhead aesthetic services much more than mood. In this way, it reminded me of Nicolas Winding-Refn’s Drive; hollow inside a shell of too-cool genre signifiers that are used as storytelling shorthand.
One interesting, oddly moving scene sees Riseborough’s Mandy, an otherwise gentle artist, laughing with feral abandon in cult leader Jeremiah’s (Linus Roache’s) face. It’s her Laura Palmer moment, but it’s only a glimmer, a clue hidden in the film’s thick fug of smoke and blood.
Source: The Guardian
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