Swiss Army Man: Film Review


I’m sure everyone has read about Swiss Army Man, how Daniel Radcliffe is playing a “farting corpse” and how some of the audience at Sundance Film Festival walked out. So I entered the screening with all these in mind and feared I would sit through a film I really hated, but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. It is probably one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen, sure, but it’s also really charming, funny and heartbreaking.

Paul Dano stars as Hank, a man on a deserted island who is attempting suicide when a corpse (Radcliffe) washes ashore. Hank, on the brink of madness and feeling very lonely, befriends the corpse, named Manny, and discovers it can do any number of things, such as act like a jetski propelled by its own farts. YES. Their friendship develops further when Manny comes back from the dead and they interact and try to find their way home.

You assume that Hank is simply imagining Manny because he’s lost his mind a bit and in need of a pal, but there are certain scenes which make you question this and I like that the truth about Manny’s existence has been kept ambiguous. Ultimately the whole film made me feel incredibly sorry for Hank – he is so low he’s now friends with a corpse!!

In the first five minutes, I really got that dreaded feeling of ‘I’m not gonna like this’ because Manny did fart a lot. I don’t mind a fart joke here and there but it stops becoming funny very quickly. However, a solution is soon found for the farts and once Manny wakes up and they begin conversing, and their chats are hilarious and very realistic, is becomes enjoyable and you soon embrace the weird and almost forget Manny is dead (or is he?)

Radcliffe was a very convincing corpse. It is a serious psychical challenge to play dead, to talk with droopy mouth and to hold your eyes in a lifeless position. He also adopts this American accent that’s full of innocence, wonder and curiosity about the world – he doesn’t understand most things so he is constantly asking Hank questions about life, love, sex etc. Dano is reliably fantastic. He carries a lot of his movie on his own and although we see the events through his eyes, he’s not a reliable narrator. He is very emotionally vulnerable and at the end my heart was breaking for him.

It is so, so weird – Manny uses his erection as a compass! – but once you get past that, you will soon realise how brilliant the script and performances are, and how funny and uplifting it is.

In cinemas today 

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