Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man, 2016. Directed by Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Featuring Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe.

Paul Dano is a castaway ready to end his life when the corpse of Daniel Radcliffe washes onto his beach. His hopes of a rescue are dashed when he realizes the body is dead, but the body’s curious, persistent emission of gas is unignorable. It is also enough to propel the body and rider away from the island…to another seemingly deserted beach. That is for starters.

What follows is an irreverent and at times ingenious exploration of self and the acceptance of self. Dano has lived a suppressed life and has gained nothing for it. He’s ashamed of his thoughts and his body, and his shame has isolated him. But when Radcliffe seems to resurrect with no memory of how to be human Dano must write on the blank slate, explaining bodily functions, happiness and sadness, love and its absence, what’s done and what’s not done.

Along the way Radcliffe’s body becomes a multi-purpose tool that can surmount any physical obstacle that blocks their way home. Dano and Radcliffe are superb and courageous in very demanding roles. The film is beautiful, funny, and true to to its unique style which is somewhere between a musical and magical realism. It builds toward a surprising end that is as courageous and interesting as the rest of the film. It’s probably not for everyone, but if you can get past the early farts, and the long, entertaining discourse on masturbation, you’ll start to get that that’s what the film is about – accepting what we are, regardless…because one starts with what one has.