Swiss Army Man is one of the most insanely original films I have ever seen. I saw the trailer and I knew it was going to be weird, but it actually surpassed my expectations. Is it a buddy-comedy? Is it a fantasy or a philosophical statement about life? Let me tell you, it’s all these things and more.
Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse who washes ashore on a deserted island, just as Paul Dano’s character Hank, a longtime castaway is about to end his misery. Against the odds, Hank develops an unlikely bond with the dead body, and he quickly discovers the corpse is not only somehow still alive, but has special abilities. Learning its name is Manny, Hank drags the talking corpse across beach and through wilderness, in attempt to find their way home.
If you haven’t seen Swiss Army Man, then you’re missing out one of the best cinematic experiences of 2016. Conjured from the the minds of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, this is unlike any movie you will ever see. In today’s world, genuine originality is hard to accomplish, but I believe the Daniels directors have produced a truly unique film. Look past its ridiculous plot and you’ll find a film about love, self-acceptance and embracing our quirks and indifference.
In addition, the film requires complete surrender to imagination and open-mindedness. I would be lying if I said this film is for everyone. We’re dealing with a dead body that can cut trees with its arm and who develops a genuinely loving friendship, with a member of the living. Hank and Manny’s relationship is ingenious and unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Manny isn’t a flesh-eating zombie or anything remotely sinister, but instead, he’s gentle and sincere, but with a habit of … farting. I’ve got to hand it to the creators of Swiss Army Man for making a flatulent corpse genuinely compelling, without it appearing as immature and juvenile.
Swiss Army Man manages to beautifully combine absurdity, comedy and tragedy. You’d think with all this mixed together the film would be a tonal mess, but it works surprisingly well. Also, the most engaging aspect of the film is how Hank and Manny evolve throughout the course of the narrative. Since Manny is dead, he has no memory of his past life and doesn’t know anything about humanity and the way people live. As a result, Hank indulges Manny with the human life cycle and he becomes less naive, whilst Hank undergoes a journey of self-discovery.
In terms of their performances, Dano is brilliant as Hank, effortlessly capturing mental and physical anguish. However, Radcliffe is exceptional as Manny. I’ve always underestimated Radcliffe as an actor, but after watching Swiss Army Man, it’s clear that he has immeasurable talent. Also, not to mention his complete dedication to getting into character, even if that means thrusting his face into heaps of dirt.
Swiss Army Man is comical, energetic, uplifting and deliriously fun. It’s constantly inventive and every scene brings something new to the table. Hank and Manny’s mission to get home keeps you watching, as well as the film’s fascinating messages. This movie may be too strange for some audiences, but the film is about embracing weirdness, because let’s face it, the oddities of this world are usually the most interesting.
There are some films that’ll stay with you for years to come and Swiss Army Man is one of them. It’s a remarkable and surreal viewing experience that I can honestly say, has made me look at the world from a different perspective. Those of you who can accept the film’s crazy premise, will love Swiss Army Man – because it’s god damned brilliant.
Directed and written by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Stars: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Run Time: 97 minutes
Do you agree with my review? If you haven’t seen it, does this sound like a film you’d like to watch? Let me know in the comments.