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Swan Song


Stars: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, Awkwafina, Adam Beach

Director: Benjamin Cleary

The near future. Graphic designer Cameron Turner (Ali) reflects on his life to date, even as he comes to terms with the cancer that is slowly killing him, unbeknown to his wife Poppy (Harris), who is consumed with her own grief over a recent tragedy.

Now Cameron is contemplating the ultimate sacrifice - he has the opportunity of going to a remote island facility run by the enigmatic Dr Scott (Close) where his memories and dying body will be cloned into a cancer-free subject who will, to all intents and purposes, become himself, and save further grief being heaped upon his family. It's improbable that Cameron can afford what must be a massive outlay for this, but we must accept it to immerse ourselves in his dilemma.

Although the director insists on crowding us with flashbacks when all we really want is a progression of the plot, we must reluctantly concede that there's not enough material here to make a feature film without them. And, though we expect twists and turns, this is not Irish director Cleary's intention, but rather to squeeze every last tear out of the situation.

The pace is terminally slow, but the leading performances from Ali and UK actress Harris are exquisitely done, down to the last nuance in emotion. We see them meet cute on a train, marry and have a son, with Poppy pregnant again as the main narrative begins. For all its faults, the film is worth seeing for these stars alone.

David Quinlan

USA/Ireland/Canada 2021. UK Distributor: Apple Original Films. Colour by Company 3.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 15 Dec 2021