Tuesday, 6 December 2011

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Mandy Lane Is In My Ears And In My Eyes...

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
US 2006
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Optimum Region 2

Warning About The Spoiler Warning: The following spoiler warning contains information that could be considered a spoiler!

Spoiler Warning: Although I will try not to spoil the ending of this movie for you, the very fact of knowing that there is a little twist in the movie may well cause you to look for this when watching and, now that you know there’s a twist, it will probably be practically impossible to watch this and not figure out what that twist is within the first 5 or so minutes of the movie.

You know... I really hate the majority of the films in the grubby, American slasher movie genre which was inspired and informed by the much more stylish and artistically brilliant Italian gialli which came before them. American slasher movies tend to be tedious exercises in gorily killing off a group of people incremently (usually a bunch of teenagers) until you are left with a “final girl” and a semi-suspenseful chase scene. The Italian giallo, however, is usually a badly acted and written but ultimately much more satisfying confection of top notch cinematography and set design all wrapped up with a powerful and beautiful score by the likes of Goblin, Ennio Morricone or Stelvio Cipriani.

So the odds, right from the start, were against me liking a movie like All The Boys Love Mandy Lane... but I’d seen the trailer before the film was due to be released (it’s still a hard to come by movie in its home country, apparently) and kinda liked the way the trailer was cut so I thought I’d give it a go. Except the opportunity never really materialised and it got held back from release for a long time and I kinda forgot about it.

But luckily for me... I remembered it again when I came face to face with a used copy at the Camden Film Fair going for £2. Yes! A film I wanted to see and the price was right!

Now then, because of all the reasons I mentioned above about my lack of interest in the American slasher genre, I wasn’t really holding out a lot of hope for this movie... but I have to say that when I finally did get around to watching it, I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Now then, to understand the extent of my surprise, you have to realise that I “so wasn’t” expecting any kind of twist to this movie. When the killer of this movie was revealed about half the way through, I didn’t expect anything further from the movie in ways of so-called “revelatory content” and in this one instance, this was to my advantage. Now had I known or suspected that there might have been a twist to this movie I would, in all probability (since the set up is positively littered with clues as to what’s really going on), have figured out this so-called twist within the first five minutes of the movie and spent the rest of the film rolling my eyes and trying to figure out why the characters in American slasher movies are always so dumb. But the point is... I didn’t suspect there was a twist and I’m afraid that the reason for this has more to do with my poor attitude towards the artistry within this particular genre of film than for any other reason. If it had been a bona fide Italian giallo for example, I would have expected every twist in the book (and probably got them). But, since I treat (perhaps deservedly so) the American slasher movie as the dumber cousin to what I see as its mother genre, I just didn’t expect any more of the writer and director on this movie to be doing anything other than a by-the-numbers body count movie... so I’ve only myself to blame/thank for the little surprise at the end.

So for all you people who have seen this movie and are sitting there saying to yourself that All The Boys Love Mandy Lane has an absolutely obvious twist which you could see coming after five minutes... I have to answer, yes, you’re almost certainly right and I would have seen it way before it happened (instead of 5 minutes before it happened as was the case) had I credited the crew on this movie with a little more intelligence. But I didn’t and, as a result, I had quite a good time with this movie.

The plot is simplistic and everything you/I would expect from a slasher movie. Much desired high school girl is invited to a weekend party at a rich boys ranch so all the boys (and girls presumably) can attempt to have sex with her. Everyone starts dropping like flies when a serial killer shows up and gorily killing them. Mandy Lane is noted for her ability to “run” in athletics so you assume that there will be a scene towards the end where she is running for her life (and that’s an assumption which also threw me off the scent a little... nice red herring of a set up Mr. Director and Mr. Writer)... but there’s a little more to this movie than just the crap story.

Truth is, although the mise-en-scene is not as stunning as it is in a giallo, the film is quite stylishly put together with a lot of montage sequences used to take the place of overlong dialogue and a real emphasis on the visual side of cinema as opposed to the dialogue heavy approach to the art form we are more familiar with in American made movies. The running time absolutely whizzes by... even though nothing really happens in the movie... pretty much.

And that’s all I’m prepared to say about this movie without going deeper into spoiler territory. The subtleties I picked up on in the opening sequences and then promptly ignored as being too clever for a slasher flick are exactly the things which will give the game away to the majority of the audience. But it’s not really the point of a movie like this anyway because, if truth be told, this movie is more about the way it is edited and shot rather than about story... and that’s its great strength and the reason why it scores over the majority of other US movies in this genre.

If you are into these kinds of films then I’d have to shout out to you that All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is one of the better attempts to make a movie of this kind. It's definitely a Saturday night movie with an alcohol and friends kinda vibe to it. Take a look if this genre is one you hang out with on a regular basis.

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