Mandy Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

Slow pacing, heavy metal quotes, a pithy score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, lots of blood and Nicolas Cage. Whether director Panos Cosmatos with MANDY We speculate in our review of the film whether it has created a genre classic for eternity or not.

The Plot Summary

The year was 1983. Somewhere near the Shadow Mountains, in wooded eastern California. The lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives with his girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) in a tranquil log cabin with an enchanting lake view. Although Mandy works as a cashier in a gas station, her true passion lies in fantastic art. Mandy’s biggest fan is her partner, who, despite his down-to-earth nature, could philosophize for hours with his dreamy girlfriend. Together they have created their own little, secluded paradise where he, as a former alcoholic, and she, as a woman with severe childhood trauma, can lead a new life. But one day Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), the leader of an evil hippie cult called the Children of the New Dawn, sets his eyes on Mandy. He wants her for himself. A drug-soaked nightmare begins…

Movie explanation of the ending

“Mandy” is a film whose hype probably helps as much as it hurts. Acclaimed with a five-minute standing ovation in Cannes and intensively celebrated by several genre-savvy critics, Panos Cosmatos’ latest directorial work knew how to build up enormous expectations among fans of bloody and/or strange cinema. In addition, there were the previously published film images, which were preferably borrowed from scenes in which Nicolas Cage, who is equally famous and notorious for his choice of projects (“Kick Ass”) either looks crazy while covered in blood or looks crazy while covered in blood. No wonder that the screenings at the Fantasy Film Festival in United Kingdom were practically sold out within a short period of time. And it is only logical that the film, which was actually only intended for a home cinema release, received a limited theatrical release due to these outstanding ticket sales. Without the early reviews of “Mandy,” which were full of superlatives, this probably wouldn’t have happened. For example, Panos Cosmatos’ previous directorial effort, the sci-fi horror film “Beyond the Black Rainbow”, was completely lost in 2010. But the promise of a crazy drug trip, a blood-soaked revenge orgy with Nicolas Cage at his best and the appropriate film snippets have managed to bring Cosmatos’ unwieldy, leisurely, cerebral nod to the heavy metal of the 80s and slow-burn cultist thrillers to a larger audience to make it tasty. That’s commendable – unusual but good films often fail because they simply don’t receive enough attention. Nevertheless, this hype about “Mandy” comes with disadvantages.

Andrea Riseborough takes on the role of the eponymous Mandy.

Just as the first press reviews gave the impression that the ultimately sensitive horror story “Der Nachtmahr” was a twisted, shocking mindfuck, the first wave of “Mandy” reactions also provoked false expectations – which has already repeatedly damaged the film’s reception. Used as the opening film at the Fantasy Film Festival, “Mandy” only received subtle, slightly irritated polite applause in both Cologne and Hamburg – too many of those present were expecting a more humorous, fast-paced revenge slaughter film. And lead actor Nicolas Cage has already expressed his displeasure in press interviews that he has experienced screenings in which people laughed at highly emotional scenes because the audience appreciated his large-scale but vulnerable performance like Nicolas Cage overacting memes. Nicolas Cage, Panos Cosmatos and “Mandy” don’t deserve this. Without a doubt: the false expectations that have been built up for “Mandy” for months only exacerbate the perception of the weaknesses of this atmospheric plotting film. At the beginning, director Panos Cosmatos does not rely entirely on his basic, conceptual goal, but rather, together with his writing partner Aaron Stewart-Ahn, introduces the characters using confusing monologues and dialogues. A pity. Although “Mandy” is significantly more wordy than standard genre material, let alone everyday dramas, one cannot shake the feeling that this genre experiment would have benefited from a greater reduction in the proportion of words. When Red and Mandy philosophize about the universe in empty phrases, Cosmatos dismantles rather than strengthens its dense, psychedelic atmosphere.

The hypnotic camerawork by Benjamin Loeb, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score that ranges from heavy metal to hard rock to psychedelic metal to stoner rock and the performances by Cage and Andrea Riseborough (“Battle of the Sexes – Against Every Rule”), which look at each other in love in a relaxed way, would have single-handedly established the characters more efficiently and memorably. Interspersed snippets of conversation would still be optional in a very reduced way. The fact that Cosmatos sprinkles metal lyrics into the dialogue book is also something he is happy about, as he himself considers “Mandy” to be his cinematic Black Sabbath or Slayer album (he now describes his feature film debut as a Pink Floyd album). The necessary lengthiness of the conversation passages at the beginning of “Mandy” does not benefit the auteur filmmaker. The characters remain far too rudimentary and archetypal for the remainder of the film for it to be worth watering down the secluded calm of the beginning of the film and the slowly building psychedelic intoxication of “Mandy” with their empty words. This brings back memories of “Dunkirk”, which is more of an impressive technical exercise than a character piece – and yet several times loses itself in lazy, interchangeable dialogue to characterize the cardboard friends in the arsenal of characters.

The visuals of “Mandy” are breathtaking at times.

In addition, Cosmatos’ enormous stalling tactics do not do justice to the obligatory explosion of violence in the third act. The aim may have been to create great tension and expectation in order to then release it in the final act. But the violent ride is weaker and shorter than the waiting time suggests; the FSK approval for those aged 18 and over is completely exaggerated. Even if Cosmatos comes up with some impressive, dramatically exaggerated images during Cage’s rampage in the finest heavy metal album cover style, his focus is solely on presenting iconic still images that capture the events before or after a conflict. The actual action, be it fights or torture scenes, is wooden; The director often cuts away before things threaten to become truly bloody and disgusting. Experienced exploitation audiences, and this is largely what the film is made for, will not be shocked by this. “Mandy” is also only very sporadically humorous. One of the rare smiles is when one of Cage’s opponents does one very watching monotonous porn or watching a grotesque cheese snack commercial somewhere else. Given the false expectations fueled by the hype, this is doubly serious. However, you shouldn’t blame “Mandy” too much for this. The film can’t do anything about the misleading market placement. And if you exclude the meandering dialogues in the first act and the depiction of violence in the final act, which only goes crazy with the handbrake on, “Mandy” still has memorable strengths to offer.

Nicolas Cage delivers a real tour de force performance in “Mandy”.

In addition to Jóhannsson’s intense score, which serves as the driving force of a scene several times, the power of the images particularly stands out: shot in anamorphic format, with milky focus, film noise so dirty that it is almost noticeable, and hesitant, flickering movements, “Mandy” comes across as someone would have rediscovered a lost cult film from the 1980s as a VHS copy and, with great effort, would have blown it back up to cinema format. Cosmatos uses this scrappy aesthetic to create a cutting and rancid mood that fits the creeping horror that drips into the lives of the main characters and is underlined by Cosmatos’ color aesthetic. It’s like we’re in the heavy metal version of “Only God Forgives.” Large parts of the film shine in threatening, pulsating red tones and Cosmatos allows the collision between scenery, choice of colors and the film’s events to be reflected in long shots. The highlight of the film is therefore probably not the stuttering frenzy of violence at the end, which is reminiscent of a badly inhibited “Hobo with a Shotgun”, but rather the confrontation between an unwilling Mandy and the cultist Jeremiah, who wants her for himself. The way Riseborough as Mandy resists her counterpart with self-pride and cool disregard, but is gradually weakened by the drugs she is given, is not just a great spectacle. It’s also exhilaratingly done, as Cosmatos continually visually merges Riseborough’s and Roache’s faces. Regardless, Cage knows how to put his stamp on the film and not let himself be overshadowed by the stylistic components or the rest of the cast. Yes, this film is his! The superlatives that he had his career peak in “Mandy” may be exaggerated, but Red’s nervous breakdowns, which Cosmatos shows in long takes, are disturbing and show the immense, unpretentious acting power that rages within Cage. So “Mandy” undoubtedly has elements that burn into the memory. But the whole thing doesn’t rock as much as Cosmatos’ inspirations would have suggested.

Conclusion: An extraordinary image and sound aesthetic that would be made for a cinematic rush – but director Panos Cosmatos doesn’t want to completely give in to his LSD heavy metal madness. But the powerful score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, an intense Nicolas Cage and color worlds with a signal effect make this 80s metal “Only God Forgives” an interesting film experience despite the stuttering pacing.

“Mandy” can be seen as a strictly limited special cinema release in selected cinemas from November 1, 2018.

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