Swiss Army Man | Movie Review
It is rare for a movie this original and affecting to actually get made and be released into cinemas. SWISS ARMY MAN, or what it is more known as; “the farting corpse of Harry Potter movie” is one of the most original and way way way out there movies you will ever see in your life. It is a movie that has equal walk-outs from critics as it does top scores. It is like an undiscovered teenage novel from Hunter S. Thompson that he wrote on an acid bender while suffering some serious diarrhoea. And it is a freaking work of genius and near perfection.
SWISS ARMY MAN is one of my favourite movies of the year. It releases Thursday 14th July in Australia from Madman Films, is rated M and runs for 97mins. Oh and you have to check out the official website HERE – I keep procrastinating on the site, you can use your mouse and throw Daniel Radcliffe all over the page haha.
BY JASON KING
SWISS ARMY MAN SYNOPSIS:
How does one explain this plot without sounding as insane as the movie? Hmmmmm
Hank (Paul Dano) is stuck on a dessert island and is trying to hang himself when he sees a well-to-do looking corpse of someone his age lying at the water’s edge. Said corpse is Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), he is well-and-truly dead but also has a serious flatulence issue. Hank realises the gas coming from Manny is so powerful he could ride Manny like a jet-ski to the mainland and salvation.
They actually make it to the mainland and for some reason Hank carries Manny’s body with him as he starts to hike into what looks like some serious bushland. Hank starts to dehydrate and starve and it would appear also losing his mind. After plugging Manny’s butt-hole with a discovered cork to stop the farting he eventually starts talking to Manny. In Hank’s direst moment of dehydration fresh water starts pouring from Manny’s mouth and then the corpse…………..speaks.
Hank is an introverted shy loner, afraid of everything and in love with a girl he regularly saw on the bus. As Manny starts reanimating, him and Hank start to form a beautiful friendship and Hank starts to realise what he is missing out on in life.
DIRECTION and WRITING:
SWISS ARMY MAN is directed by “Daniels.” They are two men, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who title themselves as the duo, Daniels. You may know them from being the directors of the insanely awesome and somewhat similar music video for TURN DOWN FOR WHAT. At least you will learn where their inspiration for overly directive penises comes from.
So let me get this straight first…Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert directed Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano – that’s a shitload of Dans!!
The writing/ directing Daniels nailed SWISS ARMY MAN. They created a movie that looks into shame and existence, acceptance, loneliness and friendship in a movie that mixes both highbrow and low brow. The movie questions what is normal and socially acceptable and then has fart gags. It mixes humour with sadness, friendship with loneliness, it is a ying and yang acid trip. It will be loved or hated with limited room in between and for this I love it even more. I saw it as a new take on the WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE story without monsters, a film that is cute, beautiful even, that is also hilarious but at its heart is deeply moving and poignant.
I can see Daniels becoming an independent force of world cinema and I cannot wait to see what is next. Due to the success of SWISS ARMY MAN I truly hope they can continue to make movies that are sublimely original. SWISS ARMY MAN will surely become a film of near thesis discussion in film studies’ courses around the world.
SWISS ARMY MAN would never have reached its level of success if it wasn’t for the two leads of Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Dano is a superb actor with a powerful and somewhat dark range. From THERE WILL BE BLOOD, 12 YEARS A SLAVE and PRISONERS to the comedies LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and RUBY SPARKS we can see that Dano certainly challenges himself with much more than actors his age. SWISS ARMY MAN shows a comic, whimsical approach to his character of Hank and as the film progresses we see a tormented person dealing with deep issues, a role Dano was born to play, and does so with aplomb.
Harry Potter god, Daniel Radcliffe, delivers his best performance since he played with his wand, OK, in this his wand plays with itself :). Radcliffe shows his true latent talent that has been waiting to be released. He gives us a comical performance that is mostly a body only performance and he nails it. At times his body performance reaches Jim Carrey or even Charlie Chaplin greatness and this is the first role I have viewed him in that I have not looked at him as Harry Potter. Add to the fact he insisted on being in every scene instead of the Manny dummy created for the movie. I believe there are only two scenes you see Manny that it is not Radcliffe, surely the jet-ski scene and probably the human fart rocket scene I would think.
It is evident that both Dano and Radcliffe gave their all for SWISS ARMY MAN. It was obviously a script they truly believed in and considering this was a feature debut they literally signed on from the Daniel’s music video clip and could see the vision. “Both were enthusiastic and had a lot to offer as far as making their characters even more three dimensional. They didn’t say ‘yes.’ They said ‘yes’ then helped us,” Daniel Scheinert said in an interview with The Californian.
Technically the movie is a marvel, at times as colourful as Spielberg’s HOOK and as whimsical as AMELIE. The bus scene alone is one of the most beautiful scenes I have seen in years. The jet ski scene is an hilarious technical headache – Director: “we need to make Daniel Radcliffe a jet-ski without drowning him.” Technical crew: “what the fuck?” You get my drift. Then they need to make him a bubbler, a flame thrower, a rocket, a gun of various calibres and so on.
The cinematography of SWISS ARMY MAN from relative newcomer Larkin Seiple (COP CAR) is strikingly vivid and the make-up people deserve an Oscar for what they did to Radcliffe alone.
The film’s score is composed by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell of Manchester Orchestra, who managed to compliment visual gags with a beautifully melodic and modern folksy soundtrack. This soundtrack is easily my favourite of the year and is on repeat in the JK playlist. Most of the songs feature a cappella singing from Dano and/ or Radcliffe and the movie’s love for JURASSIC PARK is a further brilliant addition to the movie, especially Radcliffe singing the theme song.
SWISS ARMY MAN is one of those movie gems that shouldn’t have been made but now that it has some of us have witnessed a work of genius and others have been affronted. SWISS ARMY MAN, in parallel of oddity to THE LOBSTER, are arguments in themselves that studios need to be funding more independent movies and uncontrolled creative cinematic expression. Possibly the most whimsical movie since AMELIE, with a dark sad heart of gold, SWISS ARMY MAN could possibly make my number one movie of 2016. I would like nothing more than to see Radcliffe win an Oscar for playing a farting corpse but the Hollywood Mafia (oops I mean Academy) would never allow something so affronting to be applauded.
ABOUT YOUR REVIEWER:
Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.
** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.