Swiss Army Man (2016)5:52 AM
We All Need Some Body to Lean On
Swiss Army Man is the feature length directorial debut from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (otherwise known as The Daniels). The film stars Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, Prisoners) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, The Woman in Black) - in one of his weirdest roles yet. "A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home". Swiss Army Man is a film that has divided audiences - it was booed and walked out of at Sundance but has received stellar 5 star reviews from other critics - so is it good or bad?
Swiss Army Man left me speechless - it is up there with Sausage Party for being one of the weirdest films of the year. I have to say though, I didn't like this film that much at all - when a film has basically only two characters, you expect them to be well fleshed out because the film has 100 minutes to development them and their relationship - Swiss Army Man even falls at this hurdle. I couldn't get over the ridiculousness of the farting and that jet ski scene was beyond abnormal. Swiss Army Man is definitely for an acquired taste and it was not for me.
The acting in the film was definitely strong and one of the saving graces of the film. Paul Dano is less known than Radcliffe but definitely holds his own and does a really good job - it takes a lot to develop a convincing relationship with a farting body but Dano does it extremely well - an actual bond does seem to have been formed. Radcliffe on the other hand...why did he end up in this film? I doubt this is going to get him awards attention and I'm sure he gets offers left, right and centre so why Swiss Army Man? The role is so laughable, I can't believe he lowered himself to it. I do give credit to Radcliffe though as he put his all into the role - he did make his character (despite being dead) relatable and connectable. The only negative thing I have to say is that I'm pretty sure he was meant to have an American accent but his distinct British one was popping up a lot more than it should be. Radcliffe's performance is definitely the best I've seen of a dead person.
The plot and narrative is where I had problems with the film. The plot really was non-existent and was mainly to do with getting out of the forest. However, I didn't feel that the forest was a bad place to be as the film presented it as if the characters were having a great time. The only threat seemed to be the wildlife and even when the bear did show up, it conveniently passed on harming the characters. Hank (Dano) also seemed to have no desire to get out of the forest - he was going to commit suicide at the beginning of the film so I don't understand what changed his mind and why he wanted to return to everyday life - there was no mention of this and I feel there should have been. I was also very disappointed to see a large part of the film go down the 'sex' route - why is it that every film these days (that isn't aimed at younger audiences) has to go down the sex route? Niche and artistic films like Swiss Army Man are usually the films you can rely on to do something a little different but as soon as that female magazine popped up, I knew exactly where the film was going and it disgusted me - even when there are no actual female characters they are objectified. What angers me about this film is that the concept is a man finds a farting dead body - how wacky and weird does that idea sound??! But then it just decides to introduce said body to the world of sex because that is clearly the most interesting idea The Daniels could come up with - lazy writing. There also isn't much character development which there usually is in artistic films - there are only two characters so maybe Swiss Army Man should have spent less time talking about sex and more time fleshing out the characters and making them even more connectable and relatable. There is a message to be learnt from Swiss Army Man and it is a good one - the whole film is quite taboo as it touches on things today's social norms are against and it questions why we can't just talk about such subjects. However, I don't think this was a direct message, it was just an interpretation.
I will admit I laughed quite a few times during the film but that was mostly at how ridiculous and stupid it was. I didn't get the farting corpse at all though - I think fart jokes are pretty stupid, immature and lazy and ultimately quite disgusting. I did find the film funny when Hank was helping Manny how to speak and when Hank was dressing up as a female for Manny, these were moments when Swiss Army Man shined. Unfortunately though, Swiss Army Man falls into another trope of 2016 - good concept but bad execution - this wacky concept is pretty interesting but the way everything falls out is pretty lazy and bog standard.
The saving grace for films like this are usually the acting and the cinematography. Swiss Army Man has the good acting but the cinematography is actually nothing special. At the beginning, there were some nice shots of the ocean and coast but the rest of the film was pretty bland and generic when it came to shot types. I will admit though, the scene were Manny simulates being on a bus was one of my favourite scenes in the entire film - I did like the cinematography but I found the score, humour and acting all very good - this was one of the few excellent scenes in a pretty mixed film.
Swiss Army Man isn't terrible but at times it is so bad that it is almost good. I wasn't really into the farting corpse from the moment it began - those who like that type of crude humour may feel differently. The performances from Dano and Radcliffe were strong but I also couldn't help but question Radcliffe's weird career choice. There were some funny moments but the plot was pretty non-existent and some of the turns it took were very lazy and cliche. Swiss Army Man does pose a good message and is out there but I'm not going to give a film a pass because it was out there, it still has to be a good film. It's just pretty average with a really wacky concept.
What did you think of SWISS ARMY MAN? What side of the spectrum do you fall on - did you love it or did you hate it? - COMMENT BELOW
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