- In Benjamin Cleary’s sci-fi drama, Glenn Close and Awkwafina also star as a man with a terminal illness who turns to a practical solution to protect his family from grief.
- The film’s calm intensity is too one-note, and Cameron’s misery is far too long to be moving.
There has been no shortage of near-future that deviates from the trend of technological apocalypse to investigate the high-concept ways that scientific advancement can fill an emotional void in human lives. Prominent examples include Spike Jonze’s Her and Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime; this year’s entries include Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man and Kogonada’s After Yang.
Irish writer-director Benjamin Cleary, who won an Oscar for his short film Stutterer in 2016, returns to that territory with his first feature, a soulful drama acted with great sensitivity by a strong cast and set in the soft, sad light of the Pacific Northwest.
Despite this, Swan Song becomes increasingly earnest and dull, spending an excessive amount of time lingering over tearfully contemplative gazes that it becomes far too sentimental to have much of an impact on the heartstrings.
That’s not Mahershala Ali’s fault; in a dual-role performance as advertising artist Cameron, whose health is fast deteriorating owing to a terminal illness. He also creates a molecularly regenerated copy to take his place and spare his family the anguish.
- Release date: Friday, Dec. 17
- Venue: AFI Fest
- Cast: Mahershala Ali, Awkwafina, Glenn Close, Naomie Harris, Nyasha Hatendi, Adam Beach
- Director-screenwriter: Benjamin Cleary
The fact that no one in Cameron’s family moves in on the scheme and that even the clone himself, who is currently in the fine-tuning phase, will have all recollection of the switch erased makes the life-altering experience unusually isolated.
Ali is too good an actor not to bring rich shadings to the painful process of letting go, capitulating his loved ones to a stranger. He waits to die, lacerating sorrow, surges of anger, battered dignity to the painful process of letting go, yielding his loved ones to a stranger as he remains to die.
Of course, when Cameron meets Jack, who can only be distinguished by a bit of blemish, on the one hand, the actual test begins. Jack is awakened after his memories are transmitted, going back to birth and delving even into Cameron’s subconscious. On the other hand, Cameron is threatened by the notion of this creature being absorbed into the lives of his wife and kid.
As he tries to get out of the contract, tensions rise, and the entire plan is nearly derailed when Cameron insists on a final visit coincides with a health crisis.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter