Movie Review: Swiss Army Man

Have you every experienced something so good that you cannot find the words to articulate why it is good? I can explain why you should see Swiss Army Man (SAM), but I do not know where to begin. Lately I have been struggling with my introductions and this one proves the most difficult. Better yet, I think you should skip my review, and watch the movie anyway.

While attempting suicide after becoming stranded on a desert island Hank, played by Paul Dano, happens upon a corpse named Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe, with seemingly magical properties. After the corpse helps him escape the island to the mainland, the two become inseparable.

Either way I try to explain SAM there will be spoilers. Granted, you can probably figure out the film’s whole conceit based on the trailer, but I would like to keep as much in the dark as I can. If you do not want to know anything, all I will say is that if you are looking for something funny with a macabre sense of humor, punctuated by dramatic self-discovery, look no further.

SAM is about Hank coming to terms with his loneliness and accepting who he is by communicating with Manny. Whether the talking corpse is real or not, their conversations help Hank understand himself. Throughout the movie he tries to teach Manny how to be a person by setting up various social scenarios. Because he lacks the mental capacity for subtlety and basic empathy, Manny responds to Hank with total honesty. He reveals the truth, no matter how embarrassing, and Hank is forced to confront what it means to him.

The music is more than worth a mention. From what I can tell, every track is done vocally with various tunes provided by a mix of voices from a chorus. It adds so much to the film’s natural, makeshift aesthetic where what Hank and Manny create in the wilderness is from what they find in the environment. The effects also tie very well into the aesthetic where Dano and Radcliffe are always real and the effects around them are not.

None of what makes SAM great would have been possible without the perfect chemistry of Dano and Radcliffe. They were excellent together and it would not surprise me if they went on to work together in the future.

I think this is my shortest review yet. Other than the theme and aesthetic, there was not much to say because Swiss Army Man is very good. There is nothing more I can repeat other than to see it for your self. I have not been this happy since Neon Demon and Turbo Kid.


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