Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's Swiss Army Man is a singular experience, a film that uses the stranded on a desert Island motif to create a lively, expressionistic examination of loneliness, depression, alienation, and the need for empathy in humanity. The film focuses on Hank, a young man who finds himself stranded on a desert island. Accepting his dire circumstances, Hank is on the verge of suicide, but when a corpse washes up on the sea, he becomes entranced, befriending the corpse, even naming it Manny. Eventually Hank discovers his new friend can talk and has a myriad of supernatural powers, many of which may be the key to helping Hank find his way home. Swiss Army Man is a film that uses it's bizarre narrative to deliver an empathetic study of a character in Hank who has essentially been beaten down by life. It's about the importance of loving oneself, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, as it presents an endearing study of the importance of love and acceptance. Through Hanks befriending of this corpse, Manny, Swiss Army Mann slowly reveals details of Hank's personal life, subtlely exposing a young man who feels left behind by life itself, a character whose low self worth strips him of his ability to be happy. Through this surreal story, Swiss Army Man is is a humanistic exploration of companionship, love, self worth, and empathy, with the grotesque corpse of Manny becoming a symbolic representation of humanities need for understanding. The rotting corpse is merely a symbolic representation of Hank's perception of himself, with Swiss Army Man's most important commentary being about the need to love oneself and our need as a society to look beneath the surface and see the true beauty residing in all of us. Insecurities aren't a weakness but what makes us human, and through Hanks relationship with Manny he begins to become more comfortable with himself. While a fascinating and creative film, Swiss Army Man does struggle with pacing, often relying too much on its absurdist subject matter to engage the audience for stretches, something that becomes a bit too tiresome and didactic mainly in the middle of the film. It also can be quite uneven at times, with Swiss Army Man feeling at odds with itself between its absurdist devices and it's humanistic qualities. While uneven and poorly paced at times, Swiss Army Man is an empathetic celebration of life, a film that touches on the wide array of emotions that make us human, using this tale of a man's friendship with a corpse to comment on the importance of self worth.
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