Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Although not obvious at first, Swiss Army Man can be described in one quote given by its leading character.

“You know, I’d always hoped that right before I died my life would flash before my eyes and I would see wonderful things, but as I was hanging up there I didn’t really see much of anything, but I did see you.”

Hank (Paul Dano) saw a dead body. It was an actual one and not the type that flashing in every almost dying person’s head so I didn’t give much attention to it.  Corpses feel more like a prop than they are character. Hank was trapped in a deserted island and having lost all hope he has already tied himself a noose around his neck. Actually he was already hanging when he saw the body but then the rope broke unable to take his full weight. Unable to die he instead attended to the body that had grabbed his attention.

The corpse that washed ashore was Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter himself. Deserted island with a man humming to himself with a noose around his neck. The dead body was farting with pressure enough to launch a speedboat. It was surreal. 

My mind was flying outside of the story in the first few minutes. I was curious what does playing dead body make in the movie business?  The actor just lies there immobile (technically), Daniel must be desperate. Until suddenly the eyes twitched; so, Daniel has speaking lines.

Manny – corpse has a name now – except for speaking was motionless as a corpse. The movie just became a weirder version of Cast Away if Wilson was an actual corpse whose thoughts can be heard and not assumed from Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) lines. Manny and Hank occupied 90 percent of the film with back and forth banter.

The two talked about life in general.  What is home?  What is home? Everything poops. What is weird is a very live man talking about life to a corpse albeit a talking one. After noting who teaches what to whom, take note of the definitions.

When Manny asked what is home, Hank answered with crumbs of Cheese Puffs. The normal thing to do, at least in terms of food, was to remember mother’s home cooked meal. Look even deeper and you will see Hank gave Manny only crumbs of Cheese Puffs, not even a fresh pack.  Hank is acting like a round short of a full clip.

The most interesting thing to note is that Manny, the corpse, is most alive when the topic ventures to women. Unlike most of his body his penis whips around like a cobra but thankfully all within the cover of his pants. The theme is actually normal, maybe mundane in certain angles, but the humor is an acquired taste to say the least.

However the message is very clear however disgusting it looks: for Manny to love is to be alive. Hank who has scraped out an existence in isolation amid trash did not see his life flashing and instead saw a corpse means he is as good as one. Swiss Army Man is the weirdest existence vs living themed story that I ever saw.

Now what I didn’t get is the point of a multi-functional corpse – the Swiss Army man – who among many functions farts like a jet ski and spews out potable water (gross I know) to which Hank drinks from. Tell you what, I am not interested in watching again to find out.

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