Nicolas Cage: The Movie is here. That’s right, internet; you spoke, and the film Gods heard you.
For this is not a film about a couple (Cage and Andrea Riseborough) and their quiet sojourn in a corner of North America. This is not a film about the crazy demon cult lead by a psychopath (Linus Roache) who happen upon their path. This isn’t even a film about an hour-long, blood-soaked rampage dreamt of by midnight audiences everywhere.
All these things happen, but Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy is not about that, it’s about the meme, the man, the legend that is Nicolas Cage.
For this film would have been barely recognisable, or something unlike its current form entirely, had Cage not lent his name and considerable talents to it. There is simply no other actor of Cage’s status and the millions in production cost this permits who can or likely would deliver the stylistic onslaughts which will ensure Mandy, if not a box office success, lives online for years to come.
You’ll know it when you see it, those moments tailor-made for lulz with a gif half-life to rival Cage’s already outrageous contributions without which we could not adequately express our digital fury. An extended sequence in a bathroom which will no doubt resurface on Facebook threads the world over distinguishes itself purely as an exceptional piece of performance art, though a shard filled with cocaine and a parting image of our icon leave us in on doubt that the filmmakers know their target market.
This is not to say the film isn’t entrancing, far from it. The first, heavily ethereal half bares some of the most creative lighting design in recent memory while mere moments, slowed to a crawl and played out over several minutes, situate us better in this world than any substance many of Mandy’s creators and patrons are likely to have been on while partaking in what should only be enjoyed in as large a cinema as possible.
Watching this in a crowd will inevitably be one of the more memorable cinema experiences of late as Mandy descends into the abject, highly-stylized carnage generally reserved for films that cannot afford such stars or budget here deployed to grizzly, gruesome effect. And some of the best moments don’t even belong to Cage, with Riseborough making exceptional use of a wordless, passing encounter with said cult and Roache helming one of the best scenes in the film as he attempts to convince one of our couple, and us, that he has the charisma to pull off his special brand of crazy.
It would lastly be remiss not to attribute much of the film’s impact to Johann Johannsson’s exceptional score, one of the composer’s last.
You will see Mandy crop up in your messages, in your feeds and possibly in whatever medium comes our way years from now – it’s not a bad idea to catch the movie first.