It’s time for self-driving cars and heads-up displays, but science has yet to find a death cure. Accept yourself, science! Cameron Turner (Ali) is a sweet, married man with an equally adorable wife, Poppy (Naomi Harris) and charming little son Corey (Dax Ray). He’s an artist by skill – he designs company logos and the like, which isn’t Banksy. But I’m sure it still scratches the creative itch. This wasn’t a life he wanted to give up, much less if it was for good.
Look, Cameron is having these convulsions.
Nobody but Cameron, his doctor, and Dr Scott (Glenn Close), head of Arra Labs, knows about them. Why dr. Scott of them, but what’s impressive isn’t his wife? We get to that, but first, here is a flashback or two where Cameron meets Poppy on the S-Bahn train. When she accidentally eats part of her candy bar. She gave him his number, and he called. The rest is history, with the joys and tragedies we all go through. Especially when Poppy’s brother, her zygotic twin, suddenly dies. He resigned for months to mourn, leaving Cameron with most of the burden of raising little Corey. He was almost out of his depression when Cameron started to fall to the floor, but he still hasn’t seen it. Maybe luck for him, but it must be luck for Cameron because he has a plan.
Namely dr. Scott. Arra Labs which is a remote facility deep in the jungle to “regenerate” from DNA upwards. Or “cloning” if you’re interested in brevity. This procedure can be helpful if, like Cameron, you have an incurable disease and don’t want to leave the family alone. Especially after Poppy had suffered quite a bit lately and, by the way, had just gotten pregnant. The Turners need their father. It must be new, even though it looks so similar to the old one that no one notices.
Cameron enters Ara, and there is Jack looks and sounds like him and has the same memories.
Jack wakes up, and it takes him about a week to figure out that he is a clone and will replace Cameron. Jack is only the third clone that Dr Scott will quietly let go of. Another one is a copy of Kate (Aquafin is usually reluctant). Cameron achieves A/B for authenticity, but he and Kate form a support group of two to help out during their sad, minimal time living in this become death coil friends.
Once Jack adjusts, Ara will erase the memories of her manufactured home from her brain, and life will go on through Christmas, births, diplomas, marriages, and funerals. At the same time, luckily, the whole world doesn’t know that Cameron, who lives, is one. Schote is a human instead of a man. It is a collection of cells and then an embryo and then a fetus and then a baby and then a child and then a juvenile and then a juvenile and then an adult and then an adult and then powder. What could go wrong?
I’ll tell you what could go wrong: anything. But maybe that’s okay too. This power of Swan Song gives us an idea of what the film will be like. Quiet and measured drama? Flowing crying? A touching sci-fi fairy tale? A thriller with a wild twist? No spoilers, but tone-wise, this film suggests a combination of the first two, with the occasional dark bloom suggesting the latter two. Ali and director Benjamin Cleary create and foster a contemplative spirit in this story, which primarily explores the protagonists’ inner conflicts. But all too often, I’ve seen movies stop on the penny and turn Jekyll and Hyde into crap. So what if Cameron’s clone turns out to be a serial killer because Cameron’s repressed, semi-subconscious mind has been secretly killing people for years? Crazy things have happened.
But seriously. I will say the film is more intelligent than that:
Although it does raises the questions about what actually might can happen once over Cameron hands over the care of his most precious of the family to someone else, even if that someone is precisely him, albeit not with his exact consciousness. He has all the concerns, understandably so it does put yourself in his shoes and ponder the possibility. Then it considers how you’d feel if you had a real pillow-soaker of a dream about your clone having a violent outburst. The movie’s insular and empathetic, about trust, letting go and desiring normalcy and stability for those most important to you. Still, also, maybe it’s about making a big decision that also backfires it and also ends up putting your wife in and the child in a very terrible danger. I’ll never tell you that.
The film isn’t without conceptual problems. A story which is about such a fragile secret inevitably hinges on elements that stretch narrative credibility. To liven the sombre tone and also to enhance the tension, Cleary shoehorns is in the suspenseful sequences, including one featuring an It’s Only A Dog moment, a moment in which Cameron and Jack are indeed thankful that dogs in the coming future that have yet to develop over the capacity to speak in English language.
Cleary it also edits right past one of the most exciting parts of the story, possibly because it’s too challenging to write, and he’s not up for it. Its biggest credibility-stretcher is the fact that Poppy isn’t aware that her husband occasionally randomly falls and thrashes violently; that’s a tough one to keep under your hat. But despite its issues, Swan Song is a pretty good wallow, a sad story with gentle, philosophical provocations, a lovely and clean visual palette and a few intelligent surprises. Swan Song isn’t a game-changer, but it’s a detailed, emotionally viable character-driven film with many upsides.