Debuting at the Sundance film festival, the film was met with polarizing responses. Some were applauding the film's appeal, while others would walk out halfway through. In a way, the seemingly ridiculous plot does make some scratch their heads. The story tells of Hank Thompson (Paul Dano), who is on the brink of suicide after being stranded on a deserted island for some time. As he is about to give into death, he sees a dead body float onto shore, a man named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), and finds that the body has magical abilities that allow Hank to use him as a tool of sorts, which Hank uses to try to save himself and find a way back to civilization.
Writers and directors of the film "Daniels" (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) use their quirkiness when directing their past short films and music videos as a tool to elevate this material to expert heights. What they are able to do well compared to other films that try to be odd and different is that they never try to convince the audience that anything happening in front of them makes sense. Rather, they make the film feel as though it exists in its own world, separate from the one we're used to. The way they use the environment in the production design aspect makes the film glow with scenery, and the vastness of the wilderness these characters explore make the settings feel natural, and when seeing the ending of the film gives it all a whole new context to work with. The film is also terrifically paced, and running just under 100 minutes, it is the perfect length for a great sitting.
The script of the film knows the absurdity of everything and just runs with its ideas. It constantly makes the audience question the validity of the characters' knowledge and makes you question whether anything you are seeing is actually happening or not. Nevertheless, it is the characters of Hank and Manny and their relationship with each other that gives this film a layer of depth not seen in the trailer. The performances by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are nothing short of fantastic, and their chemistry further binds the connection they have as friends. Radcliffe plays a dead body marvelously, but it is the fact that he did all his own stunts in the film that gives the performance a new context. For his part Paul Dano expresses all of the insecurities that we have as people and proves to be an excellent foil for Radcliffe's child-like character.
Overall, Swiss Army Man provides a film experience unlike anything I have ever seen. It is full of energy and weirdness that is not shaded away from for a single second. The performances are excellent, the script is unique and intelligent, and it is downright entertaining. If you are looking for a film that is different and this looks like your cup of tea, definitely check it out.