Say what you want about Daniel Radcliffe’s acting abilities, but the man who was The Boy Who Lived has certainly branched out.
From his first big post-Potter role in The Woman In Black back in 2012 to his recent turn as an ingenue FBI agent infiltrating white supremacists in Imperium, his is a career defined by interesting choices.
None, perhaps, are more interesting than Swiss Army Man in which he plays Manny, companion to the marooned Hank (Paul Dano), who just so happens to a farting corpse. Co-written and directed by Daniels Scheinert & Kwan, the film follows the pair’s journey back to civilization and their rumination on life, love, loneliness, as well as Hank’s discovery of Manny’s many extraordinary abilities.
Swiss Army Man’s remarkable acapella score, courtesy of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, thrums with energy; rising out of an innocuous phrase or hummed melody as though Hank were somehow one with the universe. Larkin Seiple’s crystal-clear cinematography, meanwhile, imbues even mountains of rubbish with a kind of transcendental beauty.
If the final act can’t satisfactorily reconcile itself with the magical realism of what’s come before, it certainly doesn’t detract from Dano’s performance as the repressed, deeply sensitive Hank nor Radcliffe’s stiff-limbed, childlike awkwardness as Manny. Gross and heartfelt, Swiss Army Man is a deliriously weird meditation on the human experience with a genuine message about accepting each other’s weirdness.
If you see one film this year that features a former child star being gloriously ridden as a flatulence-propelled jet ski, make it this one.