By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Farts. Lots of farts. That’s how this film begins, and also how it ends. If you’re not a fan of farts, Swiss Army Man is definitely not for you. Daniel Radcliffe has been riding the indie train since his Harry Potter fame, and this one is probably the weirdest so far, but Swiss Army Man does have a certain smelly charm.
Hank Thompson (Paul Dano) is stranded on an island and on the verge of suicide when he discovers a washed-up corpse known as Manny (Radcliffe). After some overwhelming bodily movements, Manny becomes Hank’s portable water fountain, cannon, and jet-ski. Eventually the two develop an adventurous friendship and attempt to reconnect with civilisation.
Swiss Army Man is the first feature film by directors Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan and could’ve been a hit or miss because of simply having limited characters in an isolated environment. But this film is anything but boring. Dano and Radcliffe have an intense on screen relationship, both goofy and beautiful. Radcliffe is just so lovable as a corpse, and I really do mean that in a good way. Apparently he insisted on being in almost every scene, even if he was just lying around being dead. I wonder how much time these guys spent together pre and post production? Seems like they’d be good pals in real life.
The soundtrack, composed mainly of acapella, is very playful, as are the sets and visuals which are like a Michel Gondry music video. The film relies a lot on slapstick comedy and these visuals to push us into the psychedelic little world of Hank and his farting cadaver friend. Apparently the farting sounds were all real and contributed by both cast and crew, although Radcliffe said he didn’t contribute anything.
However, it’s also the farting that occasionally tips things over the edge. As the directors first described the film to Paul Dano “the first fart makes you laugh and the last fart makes you cry”. What about all the farts in between? Swiss Army Man has some deep philosophical subject matter which is fascinating at times, but misses the mark when combined with some of the gross-out moments.
Either way, this film is an interesting genre crossover. Think Weekend at Bernie’s meets Garden State… with a whole lot of flatulence.
Feature photo: High Def Digest