Yesterday I caught a 3:20 pm show of Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy at the IFC Center. Not bad but overhyped. Yes, it’s somewhat imaginative, atmospherically immersive, psychologically intense and impressively flourishy in portions — it’s definitely no run-of-the-mill revenge flick. But it’s been way over-rated by fanboys. Too slow and therefore too long — it would be a whole different equation if Cosmatos could have kept it down to 85 or 90 minutes.
I get and appreciate the raw cheeseball ghoul aesthetic. Mandy is not only set in ’83 — it feels like the early ’80s up, down, over and sideways, and could have been a Cannon flick. And it certainly delivers the hellish backwoods surrealism (deep shadows mixed with intense red lighting, the occasional animated insert). And I appreciate Linus Roache having the bravery to allow Cosmatos to use the less-than-impressive size of Roache’s package as a plot point. And I respect and admire the whole meta-Nic Cage-on-a-rampage thing…anger, savagery, screaming, swilling vodka in his underwear and white socks, creating his own axe weaponry in a forge, etc.
And while the televized voice of Ronald Reagan is heard at one point, there’s no discernible social metaphor in the battle between earthy, working-class Cage and the Children of the New Dawn (Mansonesque hippie freaks, satanists, perversity unbound). Or nothing, at least, that came together in my head. It’s basically just another reworking of the “don’t go into the woods or the fiends will get you” formula.
Mandy isn’t bad but the first hour is way too slow and gradual, and by lasting 121 minutes it dissipates itself. Pacing is everything. And why is it called Mandy? Its not as if Andrea Riseborough is playing some kind of dominant central figure. She’s just the arts-and-crafty girlfriend who gets kidnapped and then murdered by the sickos. They could have just as easily called it Caruthers, the character played by Bill Duke.