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For the long-awaited (eight years!) follow-up to the mind-melting Beyond the Black Rainbow (review), writer/director Panos Cosmatos has returned to the 1980s and while both films may share a similar birth story, Cosmatos began writing both projects shortly after the death of a parent, they are cathartic in two very different ways.

Mandy stars Nicholas Cage and Andrea Riseborough as Red and Mandy respectively, a couple living a low key, charmed sort of existence. The pair work but their joy in life comes from the time they spend together.

Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) is the charismatic leader of a religious sect and when he spots Mandy, he becomes completely infatuated. When she thwarts his advances, he becomes even more obsessed, eventually ordering his apostles, led by Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy), to kidnap Mandy.

Red, at first confused and then angry about the disappearance of the love of his life, goes on a mission to get her back; a mission that quickly turns into a tale of revenge.

It's clear after only two films that Cosmatos is an auteur. Working with a fresh crew, including cinematographer Benjamin Loeb (King Cobra, Destroyer) and editor Brett W. Bachman (Cooties, Camino, Lowlife), Mandy shares similar sensibilities to Costmatos' debut. Visually, there's the over-wash of red light and dreamlike sequences which feel like they were conceived through a fog of LSD. The soundscape, which this time comes care of the brilliant Johann Johannsson, is both mesmerizing and terrifying and overall, there's a sense of distant familiarity to the movie, as if the events of Mandy are taking place in a bubble that is familiar but too weird to be real.

Cosmatos is audacious. He makes bold choices in both style and substance that at the hands of another filmmaker, would play out for laughs but in Mandy, they don't aren't only serious, they feel weighty. In part, this can be credited to a cast that is fully invested, Cage and Roache, in particular, give themselves fully into the craziness of their characters, but the entire thing is brilliantly stitched together to be effective not only on a gleefully fun level of enjoyment but also with a poignant emotional punch.

One particularly great scene which encapsulates the genius of Cosmatos' vision features Cage in his underwear losing his shit in a bathroom. In another movie, this would be a joke and though there's an initial feeling of amusement, it is quickly replaced by a heavy sadness and the tonal shift is palpable as the scene progresses.

Mandy is certainly helped by great performances and though it revels in its schlocky roots of revenge and weird cult pictures, it elevates them to a whole new level of drama by levelling them with an emotional core which comes through even as Nicolas Cage is covered in blood.

Mandy opens on September 14.

Recommended Release: Beyond the Black Rainbow

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