I recently went to the cinema (Home; the posh ‘new Cornerhouse’ in
) to see a film called Swiss Army Man (dir. Daniel Kwan & Daniel
Scheinert), a précis of which reads; Manchester
“A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.”
Daniel Radcliffe was the dead man. Some would say he acts better as a corpse than someone alive, but I am not that cruel. I thought it was a bloody brilliant film, making imaginative use of minimal props and cast to explore some deep emotional currents. In fact, I have seen it twice now. First time I saw it I was struck by the clever use of absurdism using the forest as a backdrop. It reminded me of a couple of other films that had tried a similar thing; the Jean Luc Godard classic Weekend (1967), and the more recent Yorgos Lanthimos film The Lobster (2015). I think Swiss Army Man tore strips off both, although I think it would have been better titled Swiss Army Dude.
Swiss Army Man is one of three 2016 films I have seen recently with some powerful wilderness themes, concerned with emotional liberation. It seems, ecotherapy has landed big style in the indie cinema world. The other two were the NZ film Hunt for the Wilderpeople (dir. Taika Waititi), and Captain Fantastic (dir. Matt Ross), both of which were also excellent.