Home » Swan Song review: Twice the Mahershala Ali, double grief in Apple’s new science fiction film

Swan Song review: Twice the Mahershala Ali, double grief in Apple’s new science fiction film

by Stewart Cole

The powerful spectacle is exchanged with morbid melancholy in the new science fiction film by Oscar-winning director Benjamin Cleary, Swan Song, which is being released on Apple TV +. Starring the two-time Oscar winner Mahersala Ali With twice the number of people usually playing in movies, Swan Song is a slow-burning meditation on death and a sure example of the kind of mid-scale science fiction that is becoming rarer over time.

The whole thing has the atmosphere of Taylor Swift’s documentary Folklore, if it was filmed in an Apple store. Swan Song combines melodrama with cutting-edge ideas rooted in emotion and combines cottagecore aesthetics with Hollywood elegance.

After a cute encounter inspired by the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the film jumps back in time by several years when illustrator Cameron discovers he is terminally ill but decides not to tell his wife, Poppy. He hears about a new experimental process through which dying men and women can hire a company to create clones that will take their place when they die, without leaving their families wiser.

It is crucial, however, that none of the meanings that Cleary presents in the film are taken. It is, on the contrary, an extension of technology that already exists. We think artificial intelligence and microbots are almost imaginary concepts, but in reality, they are just in a budding stage right now. This is ideal for science fiction, because that way you do not waste time trying to persuade the public to buy what you are selling. The proof of the idea already exists.

Swan Song sounds similar to the episode of Black Mirror Be Right Back just because it is. And like Be Right Back, Swan Song also spends a lot of time contemplating the ethics of cloning. But most importantly, it reverses perspective. While Be Right Back was an exploration of the grief told from the perspective of a woman who loses her partner in a car accident, in Swan Song, it’s Ali’s Cameron who prevents his wife’s anxiety and decides to clone her. Things are complicated just because he does not consult Poppy for his decision.

We know how, in the hands of a less confident director, moral problems like this can inadvertently become problematic on screen. We’ve seen the movie Chris Pratt-Jennifer Lawrence Passengers.

Almost all of Swan Song’s second act is dedicated to Cameron guessing his decision second. When he comes face to face with his clone – the man who will soon take his place – as is understandable, he freaks out. After talking to himself, Cam begins to wonder if the young man is a better person than ever. This is a subject that was (partly) mentioned in the past in Another Earth, a true masterpiece of the genre that unfortunately never got its honorary title.

Swan Song is never that good, but thanks to Ali’s soulful double interpretation, Masanobo Takayanagi’s stellar production design and glossy cinematography, it’s a movie that could (fittingly) find its audience long after its release. .

Swan song
Director of the Swan Song – Benjamin Cleary
Swan Song Cast – Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, Awkwafina
Swan Song Rating – 3 stars

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