Swiss Army Man

Winner of the directing award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Swiss Army Man is surely one of the strangest yet most creative movies that you will see this year and maybe even in your lifetime. The film has been known for audiences walking out in the middle who find the subject matter too absurd and disgusting. Despite this fact, it has still been applauded as one of the more unique and surprisingly captivating cinematic experiences. Paul Dano plays the despondent Hank who we first meet stranded on a desert island all by himself and about to hang himself. However, out of nowhere, he sees a corpse washing ashore that makes him decide against committing suicide. To his amazement, the body shows signs of life: it has persistent and explosive flatulence. Hank discovers that he can use the corpse’s gas to propel himself off the island and to an unknown densely forested land. He soon learns the body, which is portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, possesses magical powers that allow for partial reanimation. Almost like a baby, the corpse named Manny begins to talk nonsense and must learn from Hank what it means to live. Having lost all hope and love in life, Hank teaching Manny the basics of living, including sexuality, becomes a cathartic experience. To better explain human interaction to Manny, Hank constructs elaborate sets resembling the real world from repurposed trash found in the forest. For instance, he replicates a bus where Manny supposedly first meets his true love Sarah, a fact that he cannot remember from before his death. Already peculiar enough that a corpse is talking, the movie gets even more bizarre in the ways that Manny becomes an “multi-purpose tool” for Hank’s survival. Rather repulsively, such things include a certain body part acting as a compass, his mouth pouring out freshwater, and his posterior shooting objects like a gun. Paradoxically, the film’s ludicrous premise does not prevent it from becoming an endearing story of friendship and what it truly means to be a human. The message is that one must continue to have hope even when it feels like all is lost. As such, Hank was able to discover the first real person that he could emotionally connect with and love, only after the lowest point in his life when he was contemplating suicide. Overall, I was surprised that a movie with such extremely ridiculous and downright perplexing  moments could be so full of meaning. I would recommend it to those looking for a truly distinct movie and can look past its gross-out surrealism.

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