On the sizable number of walkouts for Sundance selection “Swiss Army Man” during its screening on Friday night, Daniel Radcliffe says: “It’s nice to be divisive.”
The actor, along with co-star Paul Dano and director Dan Kwan, spoke with TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on the controversy provoked by what’s being called the “farting corpse movie.”
“What more could you want?” asked Radcliffe. “Some people going, ‘What the hell did I just watch?’ and, ‘What is this?’ and other people going, ‘This is the best. I love this. I want more of this.’ I think that’s what good art does.”
Of course, the cast and filmmaker insist that the film is more than just a protracted fart joke, but they suggest even that gag has deep meaning.
“It’s incredibly stupid,” said Kwan of the device, “but incredibly — for me — incredibly existential and beautiful, and it’s a pretty hard movie to describe.”
In “Swiss Army Man,” Dano stars as Hank, whom we first meet on a deserted island where he is about to hang himself. But he stops after he spots a corpse (Radcliffe), who hydroplanes across the water by farting. Which should help explain why so many attendees — buyers included — walked out.
“The other thing I’d say about the people that walked out is that I honestly think there’s something really cool about that … We’re used to seeing farts used comedically in films, obviously, but they’re a human thing, and we’re all kind of grossed out by them and don’t quite understand how we should be reacting to them. I think, to make people uncomfortable by just using them as part of a story and part of emotional moments in a story … I think that’s kind of great … It’s nice to be divisive.”
“The reason why we made this film is because we were so adamantly against making the film,” Kwan said. “We came up with this idea, we laughed immediately, but then we were like, ‘Logically, this is not something you should make, this is not something that should exist.’ And I think, because our brains were so hardwired to think that immediately, we kind of had to examine why we thought about those things … And we use that confusion in the audience to kind of force them to reexamine … Messing with brains, but it’s like a good therapist.
Dano is fully on board, both literally and artistically.
“My character, Hank, rides Daniel Radcliffe‘s corpse like a human jet ski via his farts through the water,” he added. “And to me, I thought it was brilliant. I was like, ‘I want to be the person riding that. I don’t want anybody else riding the farts.'”