★★★★★ – “Dano & Radcliffe are remarkable in this truly unique film by Daniels.”
Swiss Army Man is written & directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka The Daniels) and stars Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Timothy Eulich and Richard Gross.
A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.
It’s been a while since I watched a film as entertaining as Swiss Army Man. It’s funny, full of heart, beautifully shot and incredibly original. Though it seems like a simple concept, it’s fully packed with interesting ideas and features two brilliantly written characters.
Dano & Radcliffe are remarkable. Their characters share an undeniable chemistry while stumbling through a forest that pushes their boundaries and in turn forces them to survive in the most imaginatively bizarre way possible. Both performances feel grounded with an everlasting, passionate eye for detail. Radcliffe’s character, Manny, though just a dead body, slowly expands into something much more with an exuberant display of emotion. Dano is impressive as the lonely Hank, presenting a calm and feeble side to the character that connects us as an audience to the duo on-screen.
The soundtrack is its own experience. Instead of the usual technique in modern day film scoring, The Daniels have decided to cut back to simple ambient voicing. Having Dano & Radcliffe sing, really solidifies how sensationally dynamic these directors are in their storytelling. Andy Hull and Robert McDowell have written these vocals as a driving melody and build their intricate framework around the performances. Every scene, every moment, connects wonderfully and goes hand-in-hand with the energetic music throughout.
This film looks stunning. We follow Hank & Manny peacefully as cinematographer, Larkin Seiple captures the essence of the forest as if it’s a character itself. It’s visually vibrant, much like the performances and perfectly ties the whole film together.
Unfortunately it’s likely that, due to its humour and the bigger films being released, this film will struggle to find a specific audience. But anyone who does discover it will be pleasantly surprised. It’s playful in its storytelling but shows admirable strength in its originality.
This is a must-watch.
Verdict; Swiss Army Man is a strangely wonderful tale of survival featuring both Dano & Radcliffe in tour de force performances. The latter accompanied with an energetic soundtrack by Hull & McDowell completes the package, delivering one of the most uniquely authentic films in years.
Swiss Army Man – ★★★★★ (10/10)