By Liz Lopez
Writers/directors The Daniels (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan) are known for their music videos (Turn Down for What) and their first feature film to write and direct is Swiss Army Man that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won the Directing Award, and recently screened at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Despite the excellent performance by Paul Dano as Hank, who at the beginning of the film is stranded on a deserted island trying to commit suicide (and failing), I did not enjoy the entire story created for him and the individual that washes up on shore, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). This “buddy” R rated film described as a comedy is not a satisfying way to spend 95 minutes in the theater when the two filmmakers rely on farts, farting sounds and similar juvenile activity as part of their art. Writing this review is pointless to a degree, as I am not a member of the demographic they are attempting to entertain, but yet, I can candidly give an opinion to those who do care about how they spend their movie dollars.
It is best to go view this film without having much explained. During the film, it is not clear how Hank is alone on an island somewhere and where the two companions arrive after Manny arrives in Hank’s world. There is plenty left up to the viewer’s imagination, including how the supposedly dead corpse regains the ability to talk, and help Hank through what has happened, or is currently happening in his life. This includes him having flashbacks to a young woman named Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Whether or not the filmmakers were trying to make a statement about the environment and how trashed out our world is, in the ocean and on land, there are quite a few scenes where there is plenty of available garbage to use for repurposing. Some is used to make floating signs in the sea, and other garbage found in the forest to create things for memories and survival. Subtle, but it is there and I think that is a good thing.
There are some very sad scenes towards the end as the viewer can make a conclusion that Hank is most likely in desperate need of emotional or mental health help. There is a slight hint that Hank has an issue with his father during the movie as Hank converses with Manny.
Andy Hull and Robert McDowel of Manchester Orchestra composed the score for Swiss Army Man and the song “Montage,” featured in the film and heard in the trailer, is composed by and performed by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.
Swiss Army Man is opening nationwide on July 1st