Film Reviews

SWISS ARMY MAN

By • Jun 28th, 2016 •

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Excruciating and only for film aficionado masochists.

I’m all for revelatory, hallucinatory films questioning reality. For me, “Reality” is not a bound state. There are many realities. What we – modern humans – call “reality” is just the state of consciousness that the only surviving species of the genus Homo – H. sapiens – produced that was more effective in conquering and then eliminating the other species, Homo habilis and Homo neanderthalensis.

Hopefully, because venturing into other realities may distract from the threats at hand, it is important to bring back vitally essential information to aid the tribe.

So I was completely fine with suspending my belief (often wobbly) in reality since SWISS ARMY MAN demands it.

Hank (Paul Dano) is trying to commit suicide in an isolated area. He’s unhappy because he does not have the “cojones” to say “hello” to a young woman he sees every day on the bus he takes to work. Hank is also miserable because he has no friends. I know, the hell with this loser. You’ve gone through more grief dealing with the cable company than Hank has living his life.

Just as he is about to “kick the bucket” and hang himself, Hank sees a dead body “Manny” (Daniel Radcliffe) wash ashore.

Hank must have recalled the Tom Hanks movie – CAST AWAY – where Hanks’ character finds a Wilson volleyball on an isolated, deserted island his plane crashed on and names the ball “Wilson”. He now has company for the many years he spent alone on the island.

Hank’s “Wilson” has a problem with farting but he also has superpowers. Hank decides that “Manny” must be a beacon and has been sent to guide him back to reality – the real world that he has failed in.

After dragging “Manny” up and down the terrain on his back, when Hank has had enough and decides to leave the corpse and go on his own, Manny starts to talk. He may be alive but he has forgotten everything about this reality. Most important, Hank must teach him about the most significant aspect of returning to reality – the art of masturbation. (Then should come finding water and shelter.) But describing things to Manny does not seem very effective, so Hank dresses up and starts acting out reality set pieces. He makes toys and is highly imaginative. The only way he can conjure up the aspect of “woman” is to dress up as one and perform flirty behavior. Hank likes playing the young woman he sees on the bus every day. What will happen when Manny starts asking about sex?

This is excruciating – and I believe in miraculous beings!

Writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are blessed. Without a “CV” one would think is needed to do a Hollywood movie with that guy from THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Dano) and Harry Potter himself (Radcliffe), the TWO DANIELS got funding and stars for their first feature length film. And it clearly appears that they took no “notes” from anyone.

What does SWISS ARMY MAN mean? Why should Manny return to life and this reality? I do not even thin the TWO DANIELS know. Because returning to reality turns out to be just as mean and selfish as before. Nothing has changed.

SWISS ARMY MAN is adventurous filmmaking and loaded with apparent special effects creating Radcliffe’s corpse and the rough tumbles through the woods. The TWO DANIELS are talented. They just need better material. 

 Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

 

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