The first thing Daniel Radcliffe did after he finished being Harry Potter was flash his junk in Equus, and ever since then he’s been upping the ante, scaling ever greater heights from whence he can shit on his wizarding legacy.
He played a jerk version of himself in BoJack Horseman, he threw Nazi salutes in Imperium and now he’s played a literal corpse whose bloated death-farts are virulent enough to power a raft.
Paul Dano plays a man stranded on an island who comes across Manny (Radcliffe), a decomposing body with a surprising array of talents. As Manny awakens, unaware of who he is or where he came from, Hank must teach him the joys of life, friendship, and love.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze, Swiss Army Man flat out refuses to stick to a conventional narrative, instead focusing on life’s little details in a series of endearing vignettes. We get an impromptu tribute to Jurassic Park, a home made forest house party, and see Manny used as everything from a fire lighter to a hunting weapon. As this odd-couple’s imaginary world expands, there are moments when it becomes really quite beautiful, particularly as a back story of unrequited love is woven in.
Sadly, the determination to sidestep expectations ends up robbing us of a satisfying conclusion. Dano is the film's beating heart, providing a soft sounding board for Radcliffe, whose Manny is inquisitive, deadpan, and rather adorable.
Without question one of the most unusual films of the year, Swiss Army Man shows Radcliffe can play a man who died as well as the Boy Who Lived.