by Evan Brown
Rated M. Starring Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Directed by Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan.
My brother had an imaginary friend when he was younger. His name was Moss. Everyday Moss and my brother would have breakfast together. They would go to school together. They would do their homework together. They would practise piano together. They would discuss the importance of Tim Winton’s literature in the backyard whilst having imaginary cups of tea together. Moss could do a lot of incredible things! What a friend to have!
Did you ever have an imaginary friend? Could it also do incredible things?
Swiss Army Man tells the story of a man who has an unconventional friend, an unconventional friend who can do extraordinary things. Whilst stranded on a deserted island and on the brink of suicide, Hank (Danos) discovers a corpse (Radcliffe) washed up on the shores of his island. Instead of ending his own life, Hank decides to become friends with this corpse and discovers that it is no ordinary corpse. This corpse can talk! And fart! And chop wood with his arms! And make fire! And many other unnatural things that a corpse shouldn’t be able to do! This corpse is a Swiss Army Man!
With the aid of the Swiss Army Man Hank goes on an incredible adventure across the seas, through the jungle and over obstacles trying to get home.
Weirded out yet? I certainly was!
Along the way, in hopes to bring the corpse back to life again, Hank teaches Manny (the corpse) about life and the purpose of existing. In a heart-warming moment Hank explains to the innocent and naïve Manny that love is extremely important for our existence which in turn causes despair in Manny because he is actually dead. Did this mean that no one loved him when he was alive? As someone who identifies themselves as Christian I know that love is so important for my existence because I have been shown ultimate love by God. 1 John 4:9-11:
‘This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’
Humanity has been shown love from God through the sacrificial gift of his Son Jesus, so that we can live through him. We exist because of God’s love for us.
Swiss Army Man premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to critical acclaim. It was flagged by many as a ‘must watch’ film of 2016. Both Paul Danos and Daniel Radcliffe display superb acting and have tremendous chemistry. Radcliffe has worked extremely hard at breaking his Harry Potter mould and this is paying dividends here.
The Verdict: Swiss Army Man is fantasy realism with a bizarre concept but if you can move past that (and all the fart jokes) you will enjoy it. It will make you cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable yet pull at your heartstrings at the same time. It will make you question your own concept of reality and what is valuable in your life. Although I was thoroughly confused before, during and after the film I enjoyed the journey immensely. 4/5
Swiss Army Man is in limited release in Australia from July 14th. It is currently screening in the USA.