Swiss Army Man has, for some reason, been a controversial film. Okay, WE GET IT! One of the leads is a farting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe). Yet, the inability to see beyond image is what this film targets. Swiss Army Man is one of the most beautiful, human films you will see because it speaks on something we all want to be but do not have the courage to become: vulnerable.
Daniel Radcliffe’s Manny is one of the most lovable, spectacular characters to hit the screen in awhile. Beyond his disgusting magic tricks, is a childlike innocence, that is so clear in its approach to life, you will cry. When Manny falls in love for the first time or dreams, you do too. Love is so pure and potent to him, I felt like was rediscovering the emotion. He looks at the world with such a bigness and admiration that you are destroyed when it breaks his heart. In the same way he experiences happiness for the first time, he is bound to experience pain. It is then that a series of hurtful, tormenting thoughts tarnish his childlike approach to life and makes him want to die. His clear and honest experiences with feelings and thoughts make him reflective of the inner darkness/ lightness we all combat. Meanwhile, Paul Dano’s Hank is representative of every instant of alienation we all feel.
Paul Dano is amazing as Hank, and it is his developing bromance with Manny that will make everyone wish they had such a friend. In the beginning, Hank is stranded on an island about to commit suicide. Hank is so painfully alone. He hates himself, and recalls his struggles to be open and full of life when he was apart of the world. As he speaks on his fears and hinderances, you completely understand his sentiment of “stuckness” and feeling blocked from joy. He ran away from the world feeling rejected by it, and now, with no way to get back to it, is trying to kill himself. Thus, Manny comes in as a saving grace to Hank because he is literally everything he needs spiritually and materially. Manny’s body can create fires, hold water, chop wood, etc, but it is his heart and curious mind that makes for a soulful “reawakening”. It is through Hank’s friendship and love for Manny that viewers will see their own love/hate relationship with the world.
Almost immediately, I felt as if Manny was a representative of the clarity and truthfulness we wish we were, while Hank represented the pain and lies we become. Never before in a film will you see such a loving bromance. Hank is ready to feel for someone again, and Manny is learning how to feel altogether. As Hank describes to Manny what is life and sentiment, you discover how many constructed barriers we, as a society, place upon ourselves. For every vulnerability or openness Manny wishes to share, Hank claims it is weird. From boners to farts, even the most natural things are shameful. As a viewer, the film potently strikes how exhausting it is to always hide your eccentricities or your nature to socially “fit in”. Unfortunately, towards the film, you realize that for all the kindness and love that Manny has, he will NEVER fit into the world.
Manny is a farting corpse with a GPS boner and a mouth that ricochets objects and dispenses water. The world would be terrified of him, and when it finally meets him: it is. The heartbreak and glory of Swiss Army Man is that its makes you look beyond the grossness of a corpse to see the beauty of a human heart. You want to run onto that screen and hold Manny for the treasure of a person he is. Moreover, you want to shake the world for not seeing that.
The Daniels have achieved a movie masterpiece. It is unlike anything you will see. It is daring, unique, funny, wise, and fresh. I cannot even say it is the best film or worst film. It obliterates that scale. Instead, it is one of a kind, and I encourage everyone to see it because you will learn so much from it. Moreover, its soundtrack and Millennial vibes makes it timeless.
There is an inherent youthfulness and glow to this film. The soundtrack is as infectious and childlike as it protagonist: Manny. The music, by Manchester Orchestra, elevates this cinematic experience into further sentiment. You will not avoid feeling or thinking because that is the purpose of this film and life. It is okay to be vulnerable. Heck, it is okay to weird! It is all apart of being human. Swiss Army Man comes out June 24 in NY and LA. In theaters everywhere July 1! Please SEE IT!
Check out the humorous official website here.