Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy” came out in 2018 like a hurricane, sneaking up on even the biggest Nic Cage fan boys, and it’s one of the best films of the year. “Mandy” is a fever dream, and surreal revenge thriller that features Nic Cage at his best. Cage plays against a world that’s equally as loony as the man he portrays, who goes up against foes that in the eyes of a blood thirsty man seeking retribution for his slain lover, are purely monstrous beings dancing in hellfire.
Set in 1983 A.D., Cage plays Red, a logger who lives a secluded and seemingly serene life with his wife Mandy. Mandy is the love of Red’s life who spends her days perfecting her art and diving in to fantasy novels. By sheer awful coincidence, Mandy catches the eye of a cult leader named Jeremiah Sand. When Mandy refuses his bid to become his lover, she’s viciously murdered. Now on a campaign of revenge, Red embraces his dark side, forging an axe, and hunts down the cult that slain his beloved.
Panos Cosmatos pictures a revenge picture that we don’t see too often anymore, a movie that straddles both sides of reality and fantasy and continues doing so until the very closing credits. Cosmatos leaves much about “Mandy” ambiguous, including the notion that much of what we’re seeing is either the delusions of an enraged protagonist, or a world that’s infiltrated, or at least assisted, by pure evil. Cosmatos’ direction is mesmerizing as he dwells on long, haunting shots of mounting tension and suspense, as well as preferring to explore his main characters through silent contemplation rather than overly verbal exposition.
There isn’t a lot of dialogue spoken within the narrative of “Mandy,” but the performances all around are top notch. From Cage, to Bill Duke, and Linus Roache, right up to Andrea Riseborough, who is almost supernatural as the titular Mandy. Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy” is a pure cinematic gem, one that has managed to stand out from its cinematic contemporaries in 2018, and I hope is appreciated for being such a vicious, artfully directed, blood soaked revenge tale years from now.
Featured in the Blu-Ray release is a twenty two minute segment with scenes of Panos Cosmatos shooting the film with audio interviews playing over the footage. There are interviews with everyone sans Nic Cage, from Cosmatos, Linus Roache, and Andrea Riseborough, to producer Elijah Wood. Finally, there are fourteen minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes, all in HD format.