This is a film that wakes you up and makes you realise all the important things that you thought were worth stressing out over, are insignificant. It makes you rethink all of those major life decisions, the career you sacrificed so much for, the relationships you gave up on, the life you said you never wanted. Swiss Army Man is a breath of fresh air, it is brutally honest about life and death, how living can lead us to do insane things, and dying is no longer an option when one incredible person appears in your life and shakes you out of this sense of mundanity, you’re no longer circling the drain, you can finally move forward again.
Paul Sano and Daniel Radcliffe make a dynamic pairing in this soon to be cult classic. As we watch Manny (Radcliffe) wash up onto the shore as Hank (Sano) is attempting to commit suicide after finding himself stranded on a deserted island. Hank soon realises he can manipulate Manny’s body and use it as a sort of multi-purpose tool, thus bringing him back to life slowly but surely. The film has a sort of Tim Burton vibe with the living dead theme, and somehow in this insane situation this kind of friendship/bromance is formed, as Manny helps Hank reunite with the love of his life, Sarah who as we later learn in the film has no knowledge of his existence and has never spoken to Hank in real life.
Disarmingly odd, peculiar, a film that will make you look at bodily functions in a completely new way, crude to say the least and yet it has a feel good aspect to it. Hank’s journey and his friendship with Manny are positive aspects of the film, in a sense, this web of lies brings Manny back to life as Hank convinces him that Sarah was part of his previous life, that in death he had completely obliterated his memories of her. Slowly we watch Manny romanticise this woman whom he has never met before, and his obsession causes tension as the film progresses, with both characters vying for her attention and each becoming equally infatuated with this virtuous character.
Radcliffe’s performance is crude and yet innocently childish as well, Manny has no idea of social practice, he has completely forgotten how to live and Hank shows him all the great things he left behind, like going to movies, eating out, partying, Hank does this by using a series of props and backdrops he creates from salvaged items, that are at times inappropriate but wildly hilarious as well. Fuelled by sexual innuendos, bodily malfunctions and gory details, Manny is brought to life and as an audience we enter into the psychosis these two characters are in, innocence and an optimistic outlook on this cruel world.
What is portrayed as a midlife crisis, can also be seen as a reawakening of sorts, perhaps Manny’s body never came back to life and Hank simply went through a breakdown due to dehydration and starvation and Manny is just a figment of his imagination, and in reality the cadaver he found was the trigger that set in motion this entire series of events? But Manny coming back from the dead through bodily dysfunctions makes for a funnier story though.
What audiences can take away from this film is this, no matter how hard life is or how unbearable it feels, as long as you have a friend by your side you can make it back from the brink of anything, because even the most unorthodox friendships can bring out the best in each of us. It takes certain people to bring us back to life, to wake us up and say ‘this is what you’ve been missing out on!’. While the film’s ending is completely disturbing and alarming, the final scene between these two makes for a dignified end to a twisted friendship.
Swiss Army Man is in cinemas from September 30.