Movie Review: Harry Potter Is Dead in Swiss Army Man, a Weird, Touching Mash-Up of Cast Away and Weekend at Bernie's | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Harry Potter Is Dead in Swiss Army Man, a Weird, Touching Mash-Up of Cast Away and Weekend at Bernie's

Posted by on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 2:44 PM

click to enlarge Daniel Radcliffe in pretty lively for a dead guy Swiss Army Man. - PHOTO BY JOYCE KIM/COURTESY OF A24
  • photo by Joyce Kim/courtesy of A24
  • Daniel Radcliffe in pretty lively for a dead guy Swiss Army Man.

Swiss Army Man

★★★
Opening Friday, July 1, 2016

Deciding whether or not you like Swiss Army Man is like trying to decide whether to keep your arm or your leg. You’re going to be somewhat dissatisfied either way, but grateful that you at least have something to appreciate. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, two writers and directors known mostly for creating eccentric music videos, push the weirdness over the edge in their first feature film. There are times where what’s happening makes sense only to the characters, leaving the audience lost. But in the moments when we’re able to catch up, the film’s true beauty can be seen.

Paul Dano stars as Hank, stranded somewhere along the bare coast of the United States, who wants to get back to civilization. He ends up finding Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe, who at first appears to be nothing more than an unidentified corpse. But he is then reinvented as a sort-of-living, farting, childlike being that cannot remember anything about himself. “You’re a miracle … or I’m just hallucinating from starvation,” Hank tells Manny. The line between reality and delusion only teeters more as the film goes on.

Swiss Army Man empathizes with what most of us consider the greatest aspect of life: loving someone who, in return, loves you back. Hank uses Manny as a tool to make his way off the beach and through a forest. Manny’s body provides water and safety, and can even be used as a weapon. But a good chunk of the film is focused on the effort to help him remember facts about his forgotten true love instead of how he’s being used as a prop.

From the acting and the scenery to the rawness of the storyline, every aspect of the film is infused with thought and care. The back-and-forth of hating it and liking it does not come from lack of effort, but from the fact that Kwan and Scheinert seem to have wanted to create something that was completely plausible but also completely outlandish.

If someone were to be isolated with nothing but a corpse as company, their delusion might be just as insane as it is in the film. Swiss Army Man is worth a watch, with a forewarning that it will not completely make sense—because humans don’t. It’s as frustrating as watching a loved one embark on a downward spiral, but as beautiful as seeing a new friendship grow.

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

by vidvis on ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not. (Arts)

I love stories like this.

by JoeJoey on A Villain Burglarized All Three Ultimate Comics Stores Last Night (Arts)

Mr. Woods must have seen a very different production than the one I saw or perhaps he was having an …

by Amy Ginsburg on Theater Review: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Songs Can't Quite Shine Through a Patchy Production of Spring Awakening (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation