Movie #58 2022: Swiss Army Man (2016)

Bet you can’t guess why I watched this one… Yes, like I’m assuming so many others did, my wife and I felt the need to see Swiss Army Man after the success of Everything Everywhere All At Once. I mean, it’s the natural thing to do, right? Once you’ve seen a really good movie from a director, (or in this case, co-directors) the thing you want to do most is check out their other work, isn’t it? I’m sure most other cinephiles agree, even if the average movie-watcher doesn’t.

Like Everything Everywhere, Swiss Army Man is something very deep and meaningful but is presented under the guise of an absurdist black comedy. Starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, it tells the story of a young man who is about to commit suicide on a desert island, until he sees a body floating in the sea whilst he has a noose tied around his neck. Dano’s Hank frees himself from certain death in order to investigate, but he soon realises that the man is already dead. He becomes friends with the corpse, who he names Manny, and soon discovers that the cadaver is capable of more things than he bargained for.

What. The fuck. It all sounds so weird, doesn’t it? Well take the above synopsis into consideration, and then times it by ten. That is how weird it actually is.

Here’s the good news: this shit is bizarrely cinematic. Not only is it shot really well but those crazy Daniels are so creative with their ideas and the way they portray them on screen. The whole thing is batshit insane and yet everything looks so… beautiful? The lighting, the framing, the colour palettes… Anyway, let me just re-iterate that this is the weirdest movie I’ve seen in a long time. 

I hate to use the W word yet again, but Paul Dano is just the weirdest guy, isn’t he? And yet the casting is perfect. In fact, he and Daniel Radcliffe are both wonderfully committed and endearing here, and they’re so believable as best buddies, even if one of them is lifeless. I could have watched the pair of them sing an acapella version of the Jurassic Park theme tune all day long. You read that correctly.

Now I’ll admit, it took some time for me to really get into this. Though the pacing is very well done, the absurdity of Swiss Army Man did put me off for the first thirty minutes or so. After a while though, it became oddly heart-warming and poignant. Did I understand the film’s objective completely? Nope. But it was certainly entertaining for the majority. 

In terms of style and the wonderful performances of both main actors, this film is brilliant. As a whole however, I can’t say I’ll be putting it on my favourites list. However, that may well be purely because I didn’t understand all of it.

Swiss Army Man is available to rent on Amazon and YouTube for £2.49 in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½

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