Parents' Guide to

Swan Song

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

High-concept drama has language, grief, mature themes.

Movie R 2021 114 minutes
Swan Song Poster Image

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Sensitive performances drive this high-concept drama, which aims to inspire deep thoughts about the pros and cons of technological advances and what humans are willing to do for love. Some of the futuristic gadgets in Swan Song don't feel that unimaginable -- like driverless cars, smart contact lenses in place of phones, life-sized video calls, and 3D video games. But other inventions, like the cloning of a person and all of their memories and experiences, aren't just distant but ethically challenging, too. Ali thoughtfully embodies the moral quandaries at stake in his dual roles as the dying Cameron and his clone, "Jack," both of whom are conflicted about the journey they're embarking on.

The film builds a certain amount of suspense in whether Cameron will go quietly and whether Jack is ready for his new job. That tension is stylishly visualized in the movie's cold colors and sparse settings. Some of the flashbacks to Cameron's memories look like ad campaigns (and raise the question: do we see ourselves from the outside in our memories?). Ultimately, Swan Song drags in the second half. The story's focus on the emotional drama feels stretched a bit too thin for a full two hours. But the cast is very watchable, especially the magnetic Ali, Harris as his beloved wife, and Awkwafina as a fellow client with a sense of humor. Alas, the always solid Close is underused as the doctor overseeing the cloning process, and the likable Nyasha Hatendi (Casual) never seems to get enough screen time.

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