Whoever came up with this premise deserves a raise and more chances to pitch ideas, because I found this film refreshingly original. A breath of fresh air with some gassy odours mixed in, so to speak. A love story between a shy loner and a drowned corpse that saves his life over and over again—I mean, this could never have been made back in the olden days because producers would have laughed you out of the room for even thinking it feasible. And now look where we are. A star like Daniel Radcliffe can get paid big bucks for acting half-dead and being dragged around by Paul Dano, and yet it makes so much sense. The sky’s the limit.
As much as I love the sheer audacity of this, it doesn’t always quite work. The interlude where Hank builds that mock bus and helps Manny fall in love with the woman of his dreams could have been trimmed by half without losing its impact… in fact, whenever they’re stuck in one spot for too long of a period, the film risks thudding to a halt (and, at times, does). It’s only because Dano and Radcliffe are so committed here that it’s nearly impossible to look away, come what may. Fortunately, what isn’t halted by the uneven pace is the way their relationship is built; later on in the film, it’s hard to think of Manny as dead because he’s become so important to Hank’s livelihood, and when their separation is threatened, you can’t help but root for them. It’s weird, cheering on this man and his corpse, and yet cheer them on you do. Every fart of the way. Psychoanalysts would have a field day trying to explain why.