3 January 2019 | aidfurlong
This film tells the story of perspective, open-mindedness, and acceptance. Through the adventure of an adolescent boy in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back and a dead body, this film demonstrates deeper thoughts important in today's climate. While the surrealist presentation with low brow comedy may not enamour everyone, I think it is an extremely adept method of storytelling in this instance and helps condition the viewer to the key concepts. It makes you wonder what actually is "real", and if and why it truly matters in the end. It dives nose deep into an individual's perception of reality and unapologetically questions the social constructs around us, like why certain actions or thoughts are so stigmatized to the point it creates emotional trauma on the individual (even as trivial as releasing gas).
The film starts out slow, and takes getting some used to, especially if you don't know what it's supposed to be about. If you give it enough time and attention, this journey wraps together in an emotional end aided by Dano and Radcliffe's great chemistry.
Mental Illness seems to be an important theme in this film as well. While Dano's character does some clearly questionable things with a dead body (to the point of having a deep friendship with him), it forces you to question how the circumstances factor in. A lonely, socially outcast adolescent in a survival situation where all the societal "norms" are thrown out the window, and his true individual is allowed to come out. Some may call that mental illness, but at the end of the day it is an individual finding some sort of peace through emotional freedom, even if when returning to civilization people don't understand. Even if you personally don't buy into that sort of stuff, it gives a good perspective on what some sufferers of depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia feel like. What Hank (Dano's character) experienced in the film is undoubtedly human, free, and should be recieved by an open mind in a world that typically looks down on people for being different in this way.
In the end, props to this film for not being afraid to bring up difficult topics in an entertaining way that really does envelope you in the mind of Hank, real or not.