Hollywood never ceases to surprise me. We had life-lessons from futuristic aliens, we had life-lessons from a tree and now we are getting life-lessons from a farting corpse. Now, I know that that can put you off but it’s interesting once you get habituated with the fantastical elements and look into the subtext of the movie.
I am really amazed by the movies that came out in 2016. Every single movie looks strange and it belongs to a genre but the genre is just a wrapper that is concealing the real meaning of the movie and in this case, a whole different story.
Before beginning this review, tell me this. Isn’t Mary Elizabeth Winstead so beautiful? I mean, if I was a corpse, even I would become alive after seeing Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Okay, moving on.
I think I’ll talk about the technical aspects and then rant on about the inner-lying meanings of the story. I am keeping this review spoiler-filled because I’m sure you all have watched it already and if you haven’t I’ll give a spoiler alert before I start talking about the metaphorical meanings of the story and it would be great if you, my dear reader, can share your thoughts too.
So, the story begins with Hank(Paul Dano), who is stranded on an island and as no help has arrived, he wants to hang himself. Just as he is about to commit suicide he sees that a body has washed ashore. He retrieves the body which is apparently dead and, almost in a Cast Away-esque manner, he starts to converse with the dead-body and names him Manny(Daniel Radcliffe). The next day, due to some act of nature, Manny comes alive and they go on this surreal journey back home.
Finally, Daniel Radcliffe breaks out of the image of Harry Potter with glorious farts. I was in awe at how he stayed like that for the entirety of the movie. I was genuinely surprised. His dead-pan expression, his physical demeanour and expressionless dialogue delivery. I mean, his face was expressionless but his voice modulation was very expressive. He switched between humour, horny and preachy with that same dead-pan expression. I am sure this will be one of the best performances of his career till now. I know, saying that a performance as a farting corpse will be one his best performances sounds a bit weird but it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen and acting half dead and half alive, while emoting is not at all an easy task. Paul Dano gives another riveting performance. I have seen him in many many movies but his most memorable performances before this were in There Will Be Blood, Prisoners and 12 Years a slave. He just exudes brilliance. There is not one beat or expression that is misplaced or under-done. It’s just perfect.
Like I was mentioning earlier, there is a lot of inner meaning to this movie but it is not presented in a way that most of the audience cannot understand. The dialogue is very simple and if you are paying enough attention instead of laughing away at Radcliffe’s bizarre expression, then you will catch up to it. Now, there lies a major problem of the movie. The gimmicks are so amazing that you may get distracted or even get put off due to the absurdity and I won’t defend that aspect in any way. But, if you really pay attention to the interaction, you will definitely understand what the Daniels are trying to convey.
There is a movie called P.K., starring Anushka Sharma and Aamir Khan. There the life-lessons are portrayed by reflecting humankind’s actions off a blank canvas. In P.K., the medium for reflection is an alien while here it’s a dead-body. Basically a blank canvas. A canvas on which we, or the characters, are retracing our everyday activities in order to figure out how much of our lives are we living honestly, and how much are we living in a suppressed manner out of fear of being judged.
As most of the movie is outdoors, the colour palette is very realistic. It doesn’t have any bleak or muted colour. Everything is very lively and expressive. Well, except for Radcliffe. His character is dead. So, you know, not so lively. The editing gives the movie a very upbeat and quirky vibe. Especially the sequence where Hank is explaining the city life to Manny. Combine that with the catchy musical numbers and mind-blowing, yet, simplistic CGI and you have in your hands a movie you have never seen before.
FINAL VERDICT – Definitely, definitely give this movie a chance. I am sure you won’t believe me after watching the trailer but it has a beautiful story underneath all that absurd antiques. Trust me. I am not kidding. On top of that it has Daniel Radcliffe’s unshaven butt. I mean, if that’s not reason enough, I don’t know what is.
Just kidding. Give this movie a watch and I am sure you’ll enjoy it.
Now, I’ll be giving away a few spoilers after the spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know then do not read after this.
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I know there are a lot of questions that came to your mind. So, my theory is that Hank is actually an extremely disturbed individual and the reason for his depression is obvious and that is his mother’s death and possible harsh treatment by his father. You see how he is fixated with the word “retard” and the moment his father meets him he calls him a retard. So as he was failing to cope with his depression he was about to commit suicide and that’s where he gets the dead body. Now, in the goofs section in Imdb, it is written that in one shot the mainland can be seen. But according to my theory that island is completely metaphorical and refers to the lonely place Hank is in. Manny refers to the lively and instinctive and honest and free part of his psyche. So, the entire journey was a metaphorical journey because a physical journey wouldn’t take that long because we can see that Sarah’s house is just a few feet away from where those stick-houses made my Hank were found. So this metaphorical journey allows Hank to understand all that he has been suppressing within him and almost frees him from his depressed state of mind. Now the last scene where Manny farts away into the ocean just plain confused me. I don’t have any idea what that meant.
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