“Swan Song”: the movie that is a great episode of “Black Mirror”

“Swan Song”: the movie that is a great episode of “Black Mirror”

It’s pure hard drama with a brilliant Mahershala Ali on top – and double the dose.

What if technology gave us the gift of avoiding death? Not in the most predictable way, but through a deeply altruistic and painful theatrical coup? This is the delicate decision Cameron (Mahershala Ali) has to make when he learns he has a few months to live.

The two-time Oscar winner character lives in a future not far from ours and keeps a secret from his family, his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris) and their eight-year-old son Cory. Faced with the diagnosis of certain death, Cameron comes across a technological and apparently illegal solution: A company led by Jo Scott (Glenn Close), which operates somewhere in a refuge in the middle of nature, creates perfect copies of people, clones with all of our memories , Longings and longings.

Cameron just has to answer one question: does he want to replace himself with a perfect and indistinguishable copy of himself to save his family the pain of grief? This is the ethical and personal dilemma that lies at the heart of Swan Song, the new Apple TV production that premiered on December 17th and relies on the talent of young Irish director Benjamin Cleary to win the Oscar for best Short film won in 2015 with “Stutter”.

“Schwanengesang” is more than a feature film, it is primarily a drama. The plot focuses almost exclusively on the sentimental level and less on the ethical and philosophical debate about the creation of perfect human copies – and always avoids a deeper analysis of the human being. Will we be so simple that we can be replicated in the laboratory?

The possible success or failure of such a maneuver remains to be seen, not least because Scott eventually admits that Cameron’s copy would only be the third exchange in the future thanks to this technology. The fictional component takes a step back to make way for deep drama that occasionally causes a few tears.

The narrative is guided through flashbacks as Mahershala Ali’s character transfers her memories to Jack, the first name of the copy, whose only physical difference is a small mark on the palm of her hand. Little by little, the colorful love story of Cameron and Poppy is revealed, the traumas, the fights, the happy moments.


All of this leads to the tough decision Cameron has to make against the clock: the disease progresses and threatens to ruin everything. As soon as the family suspects that something is wrong, the exchange cannot continue.

Despite the occasional lightness of the script, also written by Cleary, the absolutely immersive rendition of Mahershala Ali hides the gold of “Swan Song”, which gives us a double dose of Cameron and Jack. The nuanced interpretation even allows us to find the small differences between the original and the clone, especially in discussions that are actually a singular conscience struggling with itself.

The small details all speak for “Swan Song,” from the subtle and haunting soundtrack to the absolutely delicious photographs that guide you through the chemistry between the characters – with particular emphasis on the relationship between Cameron and Kate (Awkwafina), the previous patient In his company in the remote mountain house, where the condemned to death wait painfully for the judgment of nature while their clones live their lives, next to their relatives they become completely unaware of what is happening – but blessed (is it?) sorrow .

“Swan Song” sometimes hesitates in the kind of movie it wants to be. He makes his foot in pure and hard science fiction without bothering with the most complex topics, he flirts with the thriller – especially by leaving small hints that the copies may not be as perfect as they think – but he is Landing always ends in sheer drama. Not that it’s a bad decision, but it is enough to turn a worthy follow-up to fictional dramas – along the lines of “Her” – and one of the films of the year into a good, solid film.

More than a feature film with Oscar ambitions – Ali’s appearance has already started discussions about the possible nomination – “Swan Song” has everything to be a big and exciting episode of “Black Mirror”. Something that can hardly be understood as criticism.

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