Sunday, 6 August 2017

Review: Swiss Army Man


Swiss Army Man
Cert: 15 / 95 mins / Dir. Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan / Trailer

Wow, there's a lot of flatulence in this film. Like plot-driving flatulence. That's not usually a high-point in cinematic entertainment, but It's impressive given that for around twenty minutes, it's one of the characters' primary means of communication.

Swiss Army Man is the story of Hank (Paul Dano), who's stranded on a desert island and has all but given up hope. When a new arrival joins him in the shape of Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), this gives Hank the inspiration and impetus to escape exile and try to find home, and the girl he loves. Manny is dead to begin with, of course, but that's not to say he still can't be a useful friend...

From the film's opening scene, there's a beautifully crafted sense of hyper-surreality, meaning you have little choice but to stop asking 'how would that work' and just go with the film. Dano is magnificently fragile as the more talkative of the leads (then again he usually is), but Radcliffe's performance shouldn't be underrated here, either. Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert*2 have crafted something that's thoughtful and entertaining in equal measure, leaving you with as many questions as when you started, but still satisfied all the same.

So indie in feel that I'm surprised it doesn't have a yellow poster, it's often melancholic, sometimes inspirational and occasionally downright bleak. This thankfully isn't the Weekend At Bernie's re-imagining it could easily have turned out as; instead, one of those movies that I'm just glad exists at all. Extra points for the outstanding a capella soundtrack overseen by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell.

Swiss Army Man is an intriguing film. I think I enjoyed it very much and look forward to watching it again to make sure…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
There are shades of a darker Ruby Sparks here, as well as Birdman, Warm Bodies, Duncan Jones' Moon and of course The Nightmare of Milky Joe.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD / Blu-ray / Video-on-demand, though?
It's a film you'll probably want to watch more than once and with a gap in between, so if you see it on the shelf in Asda....

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I think so.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Maybe not best, but certainly up there.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film's got Paul Dano in it and he was in 2011's Cowboys & Aliens, which was directed by John 'Vizsla' Favreau and starred Harrison 'Solo' Ford and Clancy 'Opress' Brown.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Because I can't really complain about my local cinema not showing enough new movies and complain that I never have time to watch stuff at home, now can I? [ BACK ]

*2 Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert directing a film with Daniel Radcliffe in pretty much every scene. I bet that wore thin on-set after about half an hour... [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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