Some movies are set in the very real world, in places we can recognize with characters that you could meet on any street corner. Other movies are set in far-off places, whether in a past kingdom with kings, princesses, and castles or in a future space colony in a distant galaxy. Then there are the seemingly realistic movies with fantastical elements added at just the right subtle moment to really surprise and transport the viewer.
Swiss Army Man, a film written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, explores themes of love, social anxiety, loneliness, and a connection to other people, but in a pretty surreal way. The opening finds Hank (played by Paul Dano) about to commit suicide after being stranded alone on a deserted island. Just then a corpse washes up on shore. Hank names it Manny (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and finds that magically Manny is coming back to life, first by farting. But is Manny really magically coming back to life, or is it all in Hank’s head? In either case Manny’s magical abilities help guide Hank home while also guiding the viewer on a surreal journey through Hank’s mind.
There are several laugh out loud points and the relationship between Manny and Hank is really quite touching. The humor and dialogue can get fairly crude in places, so this is not a movie for kids. Most of this movie is acted by just Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe which is not an easy thing to do, but the film won the directing award at Sundance last year. But at just over an hour and a half running time you’re not committed to an entire evening if the surreal nature of this film gets too weird.
You can get the DVD reviewed here, which was Swiss Army Man, and more great titles to watch, read, listen to, or play with at the Port Library. This is director Rachel Malay, saying “Thanks for checking us out!”