Swiss Army Man.
I must have watched a thousand films. More or less. Every so often, a movie comes along which leaves you shaking in your seat, clutching your clothes tightly, happy to be alive and experiencing something akin to magic. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Swiss Army Man did that to me.
Dreamlike is a term thrown around loosely nowadays. It has been ages since I can remember the last time I dreamed vividly. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe combined to remind me what I’ve been missing. For the dreamworld is not something that is governed by the silly constraints of physics, chemistry or even mathematics. It exists and demands that you just experience the emotions your mind throws at you while it relaxes after the brutal assaults of yet another day lived in this cold, hard world.
A film which opens with a man trying to commit suicide but stopping midway because he finds a washed up corpse farting on the beach doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the viewer. Juvenile humor is one of the best kinds of humor there is, but before you get tired of the fart jokes, you’re plunged into an immensely emotional ride the likes of which are rarely seen in today’s increasingly derivative world.
I could go on and on about the glorious acting performances by the film’s twin pillars, about the writing which is hilarious, profound, sad and life affirming at the same time, about the astonishingly mature hands of the Daniels which belie the fact that is their debut feature, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to make you feel like I know what I’m talking about.
All I can say is I watched a movie which took itself seriously even though it was so unpredictable that even Jodorowsky would applaud. It refuses to explain itself, refuses to sink down into the self aware deprecation that most surreal films stoop to. Drink deep of the humor, enjoy the beauty, but when you look deep, there’s a quiet, reflective musing on what it means to be alive, what it means to grow up in this world with false hope, what it means to have a friend who finally drops his guard down enough to be able to fart in front of you. And you realise, you’re seeing something special. One of the zaniest, beautiful and most importantly, human films of the year. What’s adding on a tacky adjective like “best” but the inability of my limited vocabulary to express gratitude for having witnessed this piece of farty magic?