Swiss Army Man (2016)
R / 1h 37m / Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Sundance Directing Award Winner (2016) – Drama, Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan
So this is it. This is the life I’ve forgotten.
I was immediately sold on this one by the trailer – weirdness and action and a good sounding soundtrack – but the film absolutely blew me away. I had no idea how much it would touch me. I love Paul Dano and I am continuously impressed with Dan Radcliffe’s roles – the two together were just magic. On top of beautiful performances, Paul and Dan (along with Andy Hull) composed the soundtrack – a cappella like and downright LOVELY. AND MOVING.
I mean, I bought the special edition blue vinyl from the U.K. as soon as I got home.
Hank (Dano) is a man that wants to end his life. He’s stuck on island, alone, ready. At his end, he sees Manny (Radcliffe), a man whose life has ended and, most fortunately, offers him the tools to get back to reality. In their journey, Hank teaches Manny all the things that are good about being alive and in turn reminds himself how precious and valuable life can be. But this, of course, isn’t as picturesque as I just made it sound. It’s 100% better. And messier. And real. There is something so heartwarming about watching someone fall in love with life again.
Now, aside from the music, this film is not dreamy, I know I’m making it sound that way. Half of the cast is dead and we are confronted with all of the weird and amazing bodily things that happen when we die. There’s tons of creative liberty thrown in there (cue Swiss Army Man in metaphors with Swiss army knife) but there was never a moment that I was offended or grossed out. It was all unbelievable to an extent – another aspect that you leave the film holding on to – was any of it real? Was Hank ever on the island or did he just feel isolated? Is Manny truly alive or is he a figment of starvation?
Almost contrary to the previous paragraph, this film is, at its core, beautiful. It spotlights the human need for companionship underneath all those boner compasses and trash kingdoms. Not to mention, it was shot in the Redwood forest – the scenery is always trying to make you feel small but our leads make us realize how great it is to be us, and how big the things are that we feel, and how easily we can change the lives of others.
Swiss Army Man hit all of my sweet spots: love, companionship, utility in relationships, finding your person, appreciation of the little things in life and a little bit of “what the fuck did I just watch?” – I leave it satisfied and teary, squeezing the hand of the person that most makes me feel like I want to be alive.