Just when you thought Mandy was the most batshit crazy Nicolas Cage movie to come out of 2018, Between Worlds is here to say “hold my beer.” The newest Nic Cage WTF-fest, which recently screened at Fantastic Fest, is only the second film directed by Maria Pulera, who delivers a strange and uncomfortable film that really has to be seen to be believed. Starring Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) opposite Cage, Pulera also penned a script that will definitely inspire more than a few think pieces once this film is unleashed into the wild. Between Worlds is a film that excels based on not only an insane script, but insanity of Nic Cage at his most Nic Cage.
The film has the eccentric actor this time playing Joe, a simple salt of the earth redneck trucker, still reeling from the death of this wife and daughter. One night while on a run he saves a woman who he thinks is being strangled in truck stop bathroom. Only later does he discover these near-death experiences allow her to visit the other side to shepherd souls back to the land of the living?!?! When Joe “saves” her, Julie’s (Potente) daughter was just in a motorcycle accident and she is trying to return her daughter’s soul to her body. Joe and Julie then try again at the hospital when her daughter is about to pass away, only to inadvertently put the soul of Joe’s dead wife Mary into the body of her teenage daughter. This creates a love triangle that is as uncomfortable as it sounds, since Joe’s dead wife isn’t too happy with his new girlfriend.
Nic Cage usually does his best mainstream work when he has a director to reel him in. But here we have a completely unrestrained performance with a character filled with the kind of eccentric flourishes you would expect from the actor. It’s a bizarre performance that at times is sympathetic contrasted with the manic Cage that is the stuff of memes and legend. This is only amplified by those around him, who are playing the script completely straight and doing a great job at trying to keep the film somewhat grounded. It’s a credit to Maria Pulera, who was somehow able to take a script that was in its own respect a bit dark and ridiculous in and harness Cage and his larger than life personae to turn in a film that exists on the cusp of art and madness.
Between Worlds may not have the surrealness or the haunting cinematography of Mandy. But the film more than makes up for it with an insane script and some convincing performances by a dedicated cast who do their best not to be swallowed up by the Cage. It’s the kind of rare cinematic alchemy that no amount of planning and budget can create but happens once when all the planets align for one lucky director. Maria Pulera will definitely be a name I will be watching going forward thanks to this cinematic gift that is best experienced with a group of like-minded individuals and the Yin to Mandy’s Yang. Between Worlds is a remarkable film that has Cage playing to his strengths to bring this bizarre story to life.