By Emily Komiyama (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
We have come to a point of crisis in the timeline of cinema history. We are now consistently bombarded with remakes, comic book blockbusters, sequels, adaptations and CGI animations. Cinema was once considered a unique art form but originality is now a term we rarely hear these days. But when it does resurface its little head, cinephiles rejoice and we are reminded that film-making can still be magic. And I think we may just have the strangest and most unique film of the decade – Swiss Army Man.
Trying to describe this film in one sentence is near impossible. But I will try to break it down in the simplest terms. Hank (Paul Dano) is a troubled young man stranded on a desert island. Moments before attempting suicide, a body on the beach (Daniel Radcliffe) catches his eye and hope doesn’t seem so lost. What happens next, as well what happens over the next 90 minutes, is a thing of utter wonderment and frankly, sheer insanity. And I loved every single minute of this film.
Word got out earlier this year that numerous people at Cannes walked out of the screening of Swiss Army Man. On paper, you’d think you understand why. Manny is a corpse that uses flatulence to jet ski himself across the ocean, uses his erections to guide Hank home, and projectile vomits water so Hank can stay hydrated. Again, on paper this sounds ridiculous. But on screen, it was astoundingly entertaining. And I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. To all the Cannes bailers, you missed one hell of an experience. The journey these two characters take is gorgeous, side-splittingly hilarious and in some parts, incredibly devastating. Despite being dead, Manny is practically a newborn, and as Hank guides him through his endless questions about life, love and everything in between – he also learns more about himself and the life he left behind.
First time directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as Daniels, have turned what would have been an incredibly bizarre pitch into an exploration of humanity, growth and both the ugliness and beauty of the world we live in today. And if all of that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then telling you that the soundtrack is the best you’ll hear in years might do it.
On top of the incredibly unique story, beautiful direction and distinctive soundtrack, the performances by Dano and Radcliffe are spectacular. Dano is fantastic in everything he does, but Radcliffe is a thing to cherish here. His post-Harry Potter career has flourished, but this will be the film that will wipe The Boy Who Lived from your memory, and will remind you that we are in fact watching a method actor with no limitations. Just watch his physicality in this film and you’ll understand why.
Swiss Army Man is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. There is not a single film I can think of to compare it to. You’ll just have to go and experience it for yourselves. If you’re a firm believer in true storytelling (and farting gives you the giggles) then this film is not to be missed.
Rating: 5/5BEST QUOTES