Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Swiss Army Man

Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Swiss Army Man is the story of a man stranded on an island where he finds a corpse that he would use to help him do things while being a companion as he longs to return home. The film is an unconventional comedy-adventure film that has a man dealing with his situation as he tries to find a way to return home as well as stay alive despite his own suicide attempt. Starring Paul Dano, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Daniel Radcliffe. Swiss Army Man is an offbeat yet thrilling film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

The film is a simple premise about a man stranded on an island as he tries to kill himself only to find a dead body who would get him back to land though they get lost in a forest on their way back to civilization. While it doesn’t have much of a plot as the body does come to life and brings a sense of companionship to this man who was stranded on an island. The screenplay by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert does follow the situation that Hank Thompson (Paul Dano) is in as he’s stranded on an island trying to reach for help as he’s at his most desperate while longing to be with this woman named Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whom he’s been fond of from afar. Upon finding his dead body named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), he realizes that Manny possesses some special powers that include farts that can get him to place as well as the ability to help him create things or be used as a weapon. Yet, he would become fond of Manny as Hank would also tell him about things of the world and such as their relationship would become complex as they reach towards civilization.

The direction of Kwan and Scheinert is filled with some quirky moments yet it also has elements that are adventurous with elements of surrealism given the film’s premise. Shot largely on location in California at the town of San Pedro and some scenes at Humboldt County, the film does start off with images of trash with messages for help as it would then show Hank attempting to hang himself as he contemplates his own loneliness and inability to reach out to Sarah whom he doesn’t know much except through the pictures on his phone. There are some wide and medium shots in the direction as it play into the scenes at the woods that include these intricate yet weird scenes of recreation of civilization that includes a bus ride so that Hank can give Manny an idea of civilization.

The direction of Kwan and Scheinert would also have some close-ups to play into Hank and Manny’s interaction as well as these scenes where the latter is trying to understand the idea of humanity as well as the idea of love. Even as he would see a magazine with half-naked woman or a picture of Sarah as he would get an erection which is used as a compass. The direction also play into this idea of fantasy vs. reality as it relates to Hank and his own faults as it relates to Sarah as someone he wants to be with making Manny believe that she’s his soul mate. Yet, the emergence of reality for both Hank and Manny would come to ahead in the third act once they do reach civilization but also deal with the realities of nature and Hank’s own troubles with reality which brings some revelation to Manny on the way he sees things. Overall, Kwan and Scheinert craft a whimsical yet heartfelt film about a man who befriends a dead body and uses it to get him back into civilization.

Cinematographer Larkin Seiple does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in its usage of vibrant colors to play into the look of the forests as well as some scenes in the beach for the scenes in day and night. Editor Matthew Hannam does brilliant work with the editing as its stylish usage of jump-cuts and montages help play into some of the emotional aspects of the film as well as some of the humorous moments. Production designer Jason Kisvarday, with set decorator Kelsi Ephraim and art director David Duarte, does fantastic work with the look of the homes that Hank and Manny built in the woods to play up Hank’s idea of a world that Manny could be in. Costume designer Stephani Lewis does nice work with the costumes from the ragged clothes than Hank wears to the ruined suit of Manny as well as the clothes they wear for their fantasy scenes.

Makeup artist Leslie Devlin does amazing work with the look of Manny in his decayed state as well as the moments where he’s being used as an object. Visual effects supervisor Alvin Cruz does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it is largely based on scenes relating to Manny’s powerful farts as well as the things he does with his body. Sound editor Brent Kiser and sound designer Andrew Twite do superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as some of the sounds that Manny makes when he’s first trying to talk or when he’s being used as an object. The film’s music by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell is wonderful for its low-key yet choral-based score that relies on organic musical instruments and vocals to play into some of the dramatic moments of the film while music supervisor Lauren Mikus provide a soundtrack that include contributions Hull and McDowell’s band Manchester Orchestra, a traditional music piece, and the theme of Jurassic Park by John Williams.

The casting by Nina Henninger does incredible work with the casting as it include some notable small roles from music composer Andy Hull as a news cameraman, filmmaker Shane Carruth as a coroner late in the film, Richard Gross as Hank’s dad who appears late in the film, Antonia Ribero as a young girl named Crissie, Timothy Eulich as the young girl’s father, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a fantastic small performance as Sarah as the object of Hank’s affection whom he carries pictures of her in his phone as he hopes to win her over as well as being Manny’s object of affection. Paul Dano is great as Hank Thompson as a young man stranded on an island as he copes with the disappointment in his life as well as being lonely as he struggles to get back into civilization as well as bring some meaning to his life and win Sarah’s affections. Finally, there’s Daniel Radcliffe in a sensational performance as Manny as a rotting corpse who comes to life and does things while trying to understand the ideas of life as it a physical yet endearing performance from Radcliffe who isn’t afraid to be an object also one that isn’t afraid to be funny and display emotion as it’s Radcliffe at his best.

Swiss Army Man is a phenomenal film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert that features great performances from Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. Along with its weird and surreal premise, gorgeous visuals, and a hypnotic music score, the film is definitely a strange yet enchanting film about what a man will do to live but also find companionship through a farting corpse that comes to life. In the end, Swiss Army Man is an extraordinarily rich and witty film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

© thevoid99 2018


Brittani Burnham said...

Oh man I love this movie. It's just so out there and Paul Dano is hands down one of my favorite working actors right now.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I love weird shit and this was so fun to watch. Paul Dano is one of the best actors working today yet I was more impressed with Daniel Radcliffe being willing to do the shit he has to do for that film.