Swiss Army Man was written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The film stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. It was nominated for 20 awards from different award festivals and won 6 awards including the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award.
The film is about a stranded man, Hank (Dano), on the verge of suicide who finds a dead body, Manny (Radcliffe), and with the help from Manny, Hank not only finds his way home, but a will to survive.
The film reminds me in short – of Cast Away but with a dead body. The film is very predictable with the ending and character arch. However, I did like the portrayal of loneliness, depression and self-worth.
The film portrays depression and logic two different ways – Hank and Manny (the dead body). The desert island is hopelessness (or, the outside world) – to give up.
The island is a representation of the world in which Hank had run away from. He feels as though nothing is there and there is no reason to go on.
…Until he meets Manny.
The dead body, Manny, is Hanks brain trying to sort out what life means from a person who has no idea what life is, very much like a child, or you know, a dead person.
Hank is his depression convincing him that he is worthless and no one wants him. There’s nothing out there for him to live for.
Hank hallucinates into thinking that, Manny (dead body) speaks to him and has magical powers that can help him get home. Manny is like a child, repeating and asking things that he doesn’t quite understand. And some of those questions or statements remind Hank why he feels ashamed of things from his life – and why he shouldn’t let that bother him. And those things shouldn’t make him run away from life. Terrible things happen, that doesn’t mean you should run away.
Perfect example of Hank trying to survive is the picture of a girl on Hanks phone. Manny sees the picture and falls in love with the girl, urging Hank to take him to her. He loves her and wants to tell her how much he loves her. Hank knows that the picture is of a girl he, himself, pines for. However, he has never met her. But convinces himself to press forward and get home.
The picture isn’t just a picture – it’s a representation of life and things worth living for.
The whole film isn’t as serious as this – it’s chock full of fart and masterbation jokes. Some, I have to say got extremely old after awhile.
Dano and Radcliffe have great chemistry. Radcliffe was just a dead body, but he brought inquisitive life to the character – childlike questions about life that nonormal person would say aloud (according to Dano’s character).
Dano’s character can make you feel uncomfortable, sad and angry all at the same time. There are scenes were you really feel sorry for him and then there are others were you just want him to stop feeling sorry for himself. Which is exactly how he wants you to feel.
People who do not struggle with depression or anxiety or any type of mental illness do not understand what another person is going through. A person that has never been through it, may say “stop feeling sorry for yourself and live your life.” Well it’s not so easy to do that. Hank was so engrossed with loneliness and had no self worth he couldn’t look at it from any other way – until Manny.
That is what I really appreciated about the movie, you are able to see both sides of the spectrum.