Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
Swiss Army Man (2016)
A movie for the rest of us
After watching this movie, I wiped the tears from my eyes, went into the restroom and washed my face, then walked straight into the next screening of Swiss Army Man. I've only ever done this twice in my life; first with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), then with Little Miss Sunshine (2006, also with Paul Dano). 10 years later, I've finally experienced that same feeling again. This is a movie for the rest of us; the lonely loser weirdos that don't fit in anywhere. I don't care whether you're male, female, straight, gay or whatever, if you have just a little bit of weird inside you, this movie is for you.
I guess there are a couple different ways to look at the narrative. You can imagine that Paul Dano is basically out on his own, lost in the wilderness, and he's hoisting around a dead body on his back. Like Hank says at one point, maybe he's just hallucinating all of this, and he's really just using the body as a way to relay his thoughts. Going back to the basics, speaking to the body as if it is an innocent, childlike, unfettered vessel. In a way, he is trying to convince himself why he should go on living. (It's been said that the logline of this movie is that it's about a suicidal man trying to convince a dead body why life is worth living.) There were a couple of moments where I was convinced the movie was going to take the "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" route and reveal that Hank had succeeded in his suicide, but I'm glad it didn't take that predictable twist (although it is a valid interpretation). Then there is the magical element, which is fully supported by the ending (the objective view of the cameraman's camera, as well as everyone else who witnesses Manny jetting out into the sea) and everything actually happened as we saw it. How reliable is Hank as a narrator? Is it even fair to hold this up to the same conventions as other movies? It's still entirely satisfying if you watch the movie at face value without any other explanation for what's going on.
The other thing that popped in my head while watching it is whether or not this is a "gay" allegory. I was more convinced of this during my second screening than I was at my first one. But again, I don't think it's fair to hold this up to the same conventions of other movies. Although there is cross-dressing and the characters share a kiss (though it could be argued Hank was just trying to get oxygen, or perhaps blow into Manny's mouth in order to stimulate more gases/dislodge the cork which then propel them out of the water), it is never explicitly stated that they may be homosexual (or necrosexual, if that's the right word). At the end, Manny proclaims that they are "best friends," which I think is the correct way to view their relationship. Nevertheless, the theme of the movie seems to be about finding someone you can be yourself with, regardless of gender or sexual norms. If you choose to view all the events that happen in the film as being Hank's hallucinations (despite the fact that Manny hefts him on his back during the last leg of their journey, after Hank breaks his leg), I think the meaning becomes more about loving yourself for who you are. The cathartic moment comes at the very end when Hank admits he built all those strange creations and is finally able to fart in public. Basically, let your freak flag fly. This is just the kind of movie I needed at this juncture in my life.
Charlie Kaufman and puppets have finally come full circle.
Out of all the movies that I've seen this year, this one felt the most deeply personal to me. It conveys so much in such a simple way. As someone who is suffering from their own share of existential crises, it made a lot of sense. I wonder, does everyone feel this way? What do other people get out of this movie? I can't see it appealing to the majority of people.
There's one scene in which he's looking into the mirror and he starts to see the cracks in his face and it almost feels like he's on the verge of discovering some existential truth about his reality (almost breaking the fourth wall)...it's really quite astounding.
In terms of comparing it to Kaufman's other work, it's nowhere near the scope of Synecdoche, New York, but it feels like a pared down, simplified version of that story. There's a cast of three: the guy, the girl, and everyone else (played by the same actor using the same voice). The animation is stop-motion, but it feels so naturalistic, I can't explain it. There's plenty of adult themes but that's because it's a mature, adult movie.
I wish more people would see it so I could feel like I relate to someone.