Review: Swiss Army Man

Apparently I am watching all the weird films I missed this year!

Hank is marooned on an island after his boat is caught in a storm and moments before he is about to take his own life he sees a body on the beach. Through sheer determination to have a friend and a lot of supernatural powers this corpse possesses, Hank escapes the island and finds a new friend in the corpse called Manny.

I think I’ve seen it all now.
Swiss Army Man released earlier this year and gained a lot of praise in the indie community, winning the Sundance award for Directing, it is a surreal comedy drama with the jokes of a five year old but the heart of a poet. Dementedly heart-warming and crudely valuable in the sphere of human experiences.

Within ten minutes our hero, Hank (played by Paul Dano) is riding corpse of Manny (played by Daniel Radcliffe) like a jet-ski across the ocean, powered by the seemingly endless gases and farts escaping from the corpse.
Yes; you may read that sentence as many times as you want.

This film is about love, friendships and the letting go of insecurities and avoiding the restraints of modern society.
Yes; you may also read this sentence in juxtaposition to the previous one several times too.

It is a hard film to quantify. Debut feature film from co-directors Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan, featuring Daniel Radcliffe playing a literal corpse who slowly shows a lot of signs of life and understanding, Swiss Army Man made a lot of waves over the Summer of 2016. Honestly I can see why. I really enjoyed this film!
Perhaps a little too bizarre, but as it progresses and we see what it is all about: a man and his struggle with his own self-worth and self-image, there’s a lot to relate to! Really the story has been told before, Manny is a device used much like an imaginary friend, or an alien or a robot; an inhuman entity who needs to learn everything about life and gives retrospection of his teacher’s, Hank’s, own life in the process.
It just so happens we get to see Daniel Radcliffe flop around, playing dead incredibly well, harnessing bizarre superpowers that help Hank survive in the wilderness. Like… shave his beard with his teeth… or… break logs with his arms… or… guide him towards home with his erection.

The introspection from Paul Dano’s Hank is the most powerful aspect of the movie, as he discovers rapidly that Manny’s childlike understanding of the world unravels a lot of his own logic he is trying to preach. Moreover, he realises how he cannot follow his own advice.
As a comedy it is very funny, as a drama it pursues real life issues in a bizarre but kind way. Like two friends playing in the woods, trying to grasp “what it all means”.
I have to give some doubt over the film’s ending. There is a point were I believed the story was going one way, but then it turns and takes a less conventional direction. Of course, this film bucks every convention! But I felt like the ending was a little bit unrewarding… it could have followed through and been utterly inspiring, but instead it hangs several questions over the audience’s heads.

But overall, Swiss Army Man is truly a bizarre but fun, uplifting and ridiculous movie. If you are feeling down, or simply want to jump out of your normal, everyday life and see something new, give it a try.



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