You know the feeling – you would like to watch a film but you’re not quite sure what you fancy. You say, you want to watch something different. But you can never figure out what it actually means.
This October “Swiss Army Man” is here to show you exactly what the meaning of the word “different” is.
The film follows the main character, Hank, who gets stranded on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific. After abandoning all hope of ever returning home, he decides to end his life. Taking one step forward towards his death, Hank’s life is saved by the most unlikely of…exactly, what is it? A person? A thing?
This doubt of what exactly Daniel Radcliffe’s character is, is very cleverly used in the film – a corpse that gets washed out onto the beach is in a state of in-between. He’s no longer a living person and therefore acts as an object with a multitude of uses. Neither is he a completely dead thing, but a faint remain of a human soul stuck in a no longer working outer cover.
Hank manages to escape the desert island on the back of the Corpse by riding it like a jet-ski (yes, you read that right). He then begins a journey to return home and drags his new friend with him, teaching it/him what life means along the way. It’s during this process that Hank rediscovers life and love himself.
Death is present from the very start of the film, but not in the same way as it was done before. Daniel Radcliffe isn’t playing Beetlejuice-like character. He isn’t a ghost stuck in this world in need of help to pass over to the other side like in Sixth Sense. He is just a very physical corpse with some very advanced biological processes taking place inside him. Ultimately, this is not a film about death, but instead a film that uses it as a mean to push the story forward – towards life. Like gadgets in a 007 movie, but instead of being on a side of the story, appearing whenever convenient, here it’s supporting the main character throughout the whole of his journey inseparably.
It’s never fully said whether the fact that he speaks and moves occasionally is caused by the supernatural or Hank’s imagination. However, taking into consideration Hank’s crafting skills, he must have an amazing imagination. Whatever it is, it leads to a strong bond between him and the Corpse to form. It’s this bond and love for a stranger that helps Hank find the will to live and need to return home.
The directorial duo, Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, are known predominantly for their music videos. However, they also directed several short films which I highly recommend watching before “Swiss Army Man” (or after, doesn’t matter). Their creations have a very distinctive visual aesthetic and plots characterised by a significant “WTF” factor. It’s interesting comparing their other works against their feature directorial debut.
Music deserves a credit too. The unique plot is supported by beautiful soundtrack written by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell for whom it was also their first feature film.
To sum up, if you are looking for something equally heartwarming and weird, this film is definitely for you. Don’t get put off by all the fart jokes – this is a deep and unpredictable story.
Here’s a trailer: