"Swiss Army Man," is quite possibly the most original movie of the year. The story is of Hank (played by Paul Dano) who, we presume, is on a desert island , stranded, stuck, and left for dead. Right out of the gate viewers see a desperate man who has just given up. At the end of his rope (literally) he decides to end his own life. It is in this moment that from afar comes an vision. Well, it’s not a vision actually, it’s a corpse. But, not any corpse. It’s the withered, wet, and, worn-out-by-the sea body of Manny (played by Daniel Radcliffe). What’s more? This particular body is full of gas, and lots of it. And folks, this is just the first scene.
Hank welcomes Manny. He talks to him, shelters him, even cares for him. Yes, he cares for a corpse. But, is he really a corpse? That is to ask, is Manny really dead? Manny talks, thinks, and acts like he’s alive. But there are parts of him that simply do not function. He can’t for instance walk on his own. What he does do is manage to get Hank to rethink his position in life. He deeply affects Hank and by extension the audience.
The movie is simply beautiful. I mean that to say that the movie itself is simple. There isn’t over the top CGI. There isn’t high action or pulse pounding suspense. Instead, what you will find is a film bursting with creativity and imagination. What if your best friend was a corpse? What if I had to explain sex to him? What if he didn’t know the perfection of Cheetos? It is beautifully shot. The choice to let the scenery breath and be a third character in the movie was a great one.
Let’s get it out of the way…. Yes, he is flatulent. By A LOT! Yes, he even has working genitalia. Is it over the top? At points, absolutely. But it’s inside these moments that some of the best dialogues happen. In fact, one of the better lines ever uttered in film is in this movie. Hank turns to Manny and says, “Hank, I think your pen*! is pointing us home.” I mean come on! There is no doubt that “Swiss Army Man,” is absurd in some spots. But it is also whimsical and profound.
I will admit that I am in the minority on this film. To say that some of the reviews have been a little harsh are like saying Florida is a touch humid. At Sundance this year there were reported walk out of the movie. I will also admit that when I first screened it that I wasn’t sold either. But the more I watched, the more I was entranced. The more I thought about it, the more I loved it.
Radcliffe is honest and open in this. Paul Dano is stellar. You won’t have a hard time connecting with him at all. If you are looking for an out-of-the box movie, this is it for you, hands down! If you are looking for a predictable movie with marginal performances, this is not for you.
Clip provided by A24