SWISS ARMY MAN [2016]

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Written by Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Directed by Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead


An art-house film about a farting corpse with a compass for a penis. It seems like an extended oxymoron, but the incredibly aptly titled Swiss Army Man is so much more than a movie filled with fart jokes. That isn’t to say that there is no crude humour, there is plenty of it. Especially during the first scene, where we see a man stranded on an island ready to hang himself, only to see (and hear) a farting corpse wash up on the shore. The juxtaposition of this against the situation is brilliant.

Let’s be real for a second; can you honestly say that you’ve never wanted to ride a human being across the ocean, with farting being the propellant? No? Perhaps that is just me, but that is a perfect example of the bizarre brand of humour to be found here. And the humour doesn’t become stale, much like the title, this is a multifaceted film. Yes, it is hilarious, but it is also filled with existentialist pondering that define the phrase thought provoking, as our two characters dream about the world they have become separated from.

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One is a lonely man, the other a half-dead supernatural corpse. And that is the first theme apparent in the film: loneliness. Hank has run away only to find himself far worse off, while Manny, the strange talking corpse, is lonely in that he can’t remember what his life was like. He can’t understand emotion, or feelings, or what the human experience is at all. His innocence is that of a child, constantly asking Hank questions about life. His questions pierce Hank, triggering memories, as the questions are so honest and innocent, but at the same time they are extremely hard questions to answer. They seem obvious, but the answer is often hard to find, for Hank or the viewers.

Daniel Radcliffe is the true star of this strange film, giving a truly disturbing yet funny performance. It is never clear if Manny was dead for the entire film, or if his behaviour and innocence is an extended fantasy of a man gone mad, a reflection of his own insecurities and regrets. The film really dives deep into what it is to be a to be alive, as Manny is naive to humanity entirely, at one point asking Hank, “what is life?”

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Regret plays a major role as we learn more about Hank, the man ready to hang himself at the beginning of the film. It is slowly revealed just why he decided to leave the civilised world, but there is also a ton of ambiguity, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps themselves. Paul Dano is terrific as this stranded and lonely man, delivering a performance that hits hard emotionally. We are never clear if he is sane or not, or rather how far into insanity he has slipped into after being alone for so long.

The bond that these two build is strong, as Hank does his best to stir some memories from Manny’s life. But the situation is so surreal, this bond could be interpreted in many different ways. Was any of the movie a hallucination of Hank’s? A depiction of how truly lost he is as a person? The two form a sort of brotherly bond as Hank tries to jog Manny’s memory. This could also be seen as a reflection of Hank’s lonlininess, his inability to truly share himself. Or it could be regret that he has never been so close to any person like this in his life.

This is indeed an adventure film like no other, and every person will take something different from it.

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Despite the odd, crude premise this is one of the most human films ever made, as it addresses what it is to be alive, to form friendships.six beer(1) It is about your memories, both good and bad. For a film filled with fart jokes and other ‘potty’ humour, it is quite the accomplishment to create such an emotional film. It really is a movie like a Swiss Army Knife: incredibly varied in what it has to offer. It is funny, it is filled with notions about life and what it is to be human, it is at times a tense adventure film, and it has a wonderful soundtrack and some simple cinematography to capture the beautiful outdoors. This is easily one of the best films of this year so far and a second or even third viewing will yield even more results.

A full six-pack! Only the second of the year

6/6

36 Comments on “SWISS ARMY MAN [2016]

    • Radcliffe is actually pretty amazing. Perhaps its cos I never saw those Harry Potter movies but here his performance is one like no other

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  1. Definitely want to check this out sometime – it seems so bizarre, like something that just has to be seen to be believed.

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  2. You have to hand it to Radcliffe – he could have gone the easy route and stayed in the family friendly genre after Harry Potter but he has tested himself as an actor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed. He has tested himself with a very interesting role and he nailed it. If this wasn’t an art film his performance would deserve an award. And its much better than his appearance in Now You See Me 2!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “disturbing” is a word that keeps cropping up in reviews for this movie (and I like it!). Sounds very interesting. Daniel Radcliffe is supremely talented (IMO!)

    Great write up Jordy, the fact you love this, makes me want to watch it even more! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is amazing how it combines such crude humour with such a human experience. There is no film to compare it to, its a new type of film.

      I need to see it again

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  4. Great review. This movie was great and you hit a lot of the reasons why. I especially loved the performances from Radcliffe and Dano – both were fantastic in the most bizarre roles imaginable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, both played off each other perfectly, and the innocence of Radcliffe is so confronting Dano doesn’t know how to respond at times. It is the most human film I have ever seen

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  5. I’ll definitely check this out when it’s released over here. I’ve seen a couple of good reviews now and the trailer had me intrigued too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a one of a kind. There will never be anything like it. This movie makes the Lobster seem like a pretty normal movie in comparison mate, seriously. I look forward to reading your thoughts

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  6. This is an amazing film that sadly many will just disregard as that one where Harry Potter was a farting zombie. I agree that it delves into more complex issues of what it’s like to be human and how to connect with others. I felt such a surge of happiness and love when I left the theater. Great review

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt the same when I left. It tells so much about loneliness and relationships, friendships… the human condition really. Radcliffe’s innocence to it all is incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

      I can’t see a film topping this one for some time

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  7. “…so much more than a movie filled with fart jokes.” Well that’s good! At first glance this isn’t my kind of flick, but perhaps that’s due to the way it was marketed. After reading some positive reviews I’m curious enough to rent it later. I give props to both leads, esp Radcliffe who’s definitely made a brave choice in taking on this role.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so human, it poses so many questions about what it is to live, to experience things, to remember things…. It is an existentialist’s dream film really, it is the best film I have seen all decade

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Just a mesmerizing experience and I love that you are so passionate about it too. This is easily the best and most staying film I’ve reviewed in my (short short) time here on the blogosphere. I’m buying this so I can watch it over and again. And mine those many themes and emotions it lays out. I agree, this thing can be interpreted and experienced in so many different ways. Besides Radcliffes bonkers performance, that’s the thing I liked most about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah man, it gives you so much too think about, so many different ways of interpreting it. Its the best film I’ve seen from this decade. I’m gonna see it again before its gone from cinemas, and then buy the BR as soon as its out. I have a feeling this is one of those films that you could watch 50 times. I can’t wait to see it again and like you said, mine through the many themes that are at play.

      And thanks again for reviewing it, I doubt I’d have gone to see it if I hadn’t read your post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really cool to hear. I’m glad I could have some influence on other people’s viewing habits. And esp if I can introduce them to new great films. New great anything really. SAM is just top-notch stuff man. I can’t wait to see it again. I think I messed up and waited too long to catch it a second time in theaters and I really don’t do that very often as there are so many other things I want to see for the first time. This would have been definitely worth it though. Oh well. I know what I’m asking for for Xmas this year 😉

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      • Hehehe. Yeah there aren’t many films to pick from down here so seeing it twice won’t be a huge issue. A lot of stuff has hit Adelaide recently though, Demolition, Everybody Wants Some!, Love and Friendship, SAM, Embrace of the Serpent, Our Kind Of Traitor… for once there is a lot to pick from! That isn’t usually the case

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Random Reflections #1 – First Reflection, Six Feet Under & Best of 2016 | The Blazing Reel

  10. My anticipation wasn’t particularly high early on. But after reading your review and a number of others I have to say, I am really excited for this. Great review man. Hoping it will sit with me the same way it did for you.

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  11. I gotta tell ya man, no movie has affected me quite as much as Swiss Army Man did. I seriously haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it all the way back in June.

    Like

  12. Pingback: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016 | epileptic moondancer

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