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Review: The award for weirdest Nicolas Cage movie of 2018 goes to ‘Between Worlds’

Billie (Penelope Mitchell) and Joe (Nicolas Cage)
Nicolas Cage, with Penelope Mitchell, again demonstrates his capacity for fierce commitment to a role in “Between Worlds.”
(Saban Films / Lionsgate)

This year alone, Nicolas Cage has played a deranged, child-hunting suburbanite in “Mom and Dad,” a grief-stricken, chainsaw-wielding Satanist-slayer in “Mandy,” and an angsty, Bogart-esque Spider-Man in “Into the Spider-Verse.” Yet Cage’s oddest 2018 movie may be “Between Worlds,” a freaky supernatural thriller/neo-noir hybrid that — blessedly — no one in the cast seems to have taken too seriously.

Cage plays Joe, a paunchy, hairy Southern truck driver, who spends his days trying to numb the pain of a tragic loss. At the start of the film, he meets Julie (Franka Potente), as she’s in the process of being strangled in a gas station bathroom.

It turns out Julie’s letting herself be choked, because she can communicate with the newly and near-dead when she’s on the verge of death herself. Soon, Julie’s trying to retrieve the spirit of her comatose daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell) … but accidentally revives Joe’s late wife, Mary (Lydia Hearst), instead.

Writer-director Maria Pulera aims for something with the comic grotesquerie of David Lynch — full of eccentric lowlifes and identity swapping — but a more straightforward plot. What she ends up with is ultimately too tame and under-thought.

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Still, Cage goes as flat-out here as he did in Lynch’s “Wild at Heart,” playing a character who careens from indulgence to indulgence in a perpetual effort to regain the once-happy life he squandered. The actor’s fierce commitment turns “Between Worlds” into another solidly strange entry in the ever-expanding “Nicolas Cage movie” sub-genre.

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‘Between Worlds’

Rating: R, for strong sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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