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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Swan Song (2021)

Heartfelt and engaging, we still have to wonder, like Sam Bell, how many clones is too many clones? Set in a future near enough to be disturbing, this story of how far a man will go to protect the people he loves is an unusual one. In a culture of checking at least twice before you really believe what you see and hear, perhaps cynicism shouldn't be at the forefront of this reviewers' mind, but it is still is. Blame practically unavoidable, socially-fed paranoia and anxiety.

With a sprinkling of Eternal Sunshine, Mahershala Ali's character stumbles through a similar gamut of emotions, before he reaches his conclusion. When he finds out that he is going to die, but can create an exact copy of himself, memories and all, through the wonders of Glenn Close's technology, he doesn't want his wife (Naomie Harris) and son to suffer at his unavoidable passing, so we join him on his travels through the best of his memories with them, as he considers just replacing himself with his perfect clone, without so much as telling them about it.


Narcissism gone awry or a genuine need to protect? Well, it could easily be either, even both, but I questioned the notion of introducing the dying man to his future self as soon as it happened, given that Awkwafina's clone that we were originally introduced to previously had no idea that they were a clone and that there had been no noticeable break between the end of one person and the beginning of the next. Giving them any opportunity to experience these interactions would be pointless and also possibly dangerous, even if they wipe the remaining mind of the events.


It takes less than an hour for the lines to really blur, as the clone(?) make a video call to his(?) wife, with the original(?) watching on, out of shot. By this time, I'm asking who it is I'm really watching, waiting for the bomb to drop, more confused by the clarity of the plot, rather than the point of it.


Beautiful cinematography makes this easy to watch, and the nods to near future technology is often fascinating albeit less than revolutionary, taking nothing away from the story. A comforting score is prevalent and the relevance of Harris' delightful rendition of 'Sometimes It Snows In April' may be missed by most, but not all.


A few of my peers have labelled this as 'boring', despite admitting they wanted more. While it is true that this is too slow for some, this tragedy does well in its telling and I feel the pacing is almost spot on, both subtle and nuanced.


Less sci-fi, more delicately handled family drama, which may disappoint the tech-heads in the audience who might have been expecting more.


Highly recommended. (it is my kind of thing, mind)



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