Swiss Army Man is better before it gets real

Now playing in limited release around Australia, including Palace Centro exclusively in Brisbane.

Swiss Army Man is a film whose madcap reputation precedes it, so it needs little introduction. A recap for those playing at home – upon its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it was one of the hottest tickets in town before experiencing a mass of walkouts at its first screening and a flurry of internet attention. It was widely declared as “the strangest film to ever play Sundance“. In true Sundance fashion, it then won Best Director. Such a hyperbolic saga would promise a much more daring film than what eventuates, which begins as offbeat as its reputation as ‘the farting Daniel Radcliffe corpse movie’ promises, before quickly falling into regular Sundance convention. The film is at its best when indeed exploring the limits of a feature length fart joke, Manny’s flatulence being used for everything from lighting a fire to a jet ski, and his boner acting as a compass that guides them out of the wilderness. Manny and Hank (Paul Dano) eventually find themselves in a remote but nonetheless more populated area, where they pass the time building from trash heaps elaborate recreations of scenes from Hank’s life to play-act in. But it’s as the chemistry between Manny and Hank hints at something more the film suddenly pulls the narrative equivalent of the dreaded ‘no homo’, quickly diverting into a story about Hank’s pining over Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a mysterious woman he saw on the bus each day. The film comes back to the ground and attempts to amount to something more meaningful than flatulence, is hard to accept with when the duration of the film thus far was unabashedly absurdist and when Hank’s preceding actions as effectively stalking Sarah are difficult to sympathise with. The result is a film not unlike those to grace Sundance screens countless times before, and one that’s better when in the clouds.

Rating: 3/5

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2 thoughts on “Swiss Army Man is better before it gets real

  1. IMO its a shame that so much is made of the comedic bodily functions in this film, because it is actually a serious work that can be reasonably compared to Waiting for Godot and Prosperos Books.

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