IN A NUTSHELL:
The film was written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, his first feature film. He received acclaim and an Academy Award for his 2015 short called Stutterer. He's off to a great start!
Set in the near future, "Swan Song" is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father who is expecting his second child with his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris). When Cameron is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cameron grapples with whether or not to alter his family's fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. The film explores how far we will go, and how much we're willing to sacrifice, to make a happier life for the people we love.
THINGS I LIKED:
First of all, Mahershala Ali is gold. He's excellent in everything he does and has MANY awards to prove it. I especially loved him in Green Book. I absolutely adore him and can't wait to see him in the upcoming Marvel movie BLADE.
Mahershala and Naomie Harris make such a gorgeous and believable couple. I love them together. They both starred in Moonlight and received nominations for their touching performances in that.
Something amusing happens on a train at the beginning of the movie. I actually read of that exact thing happening many years ago. It's a cute misunderstanding that shows the good nature of most people and allows you to immediately fall in love with the couple.
I love the robot service on the train, the cool tech gadgets, and the self-driving car. I can't wait until we have those in our everyday world. Even still, the futuristic tech that is featured in the movie is just to create a setting that allows us to readily accept the science of cloning people. It's not the focus of the film, but provides a believable and interesting backdrop.
The original score is just lovely. The element of music is also utilized to express happiness in one of the characters' lives. The title itself is appropriate: Swan Song.
The montages make you realize how fast time flies by and that the beautiful moments of life are made up of all of the small things we experience in everyday life.
Stunning landscapes and cinematography.
From a mom's perspective, I can appreciate the sacrifice the main character was willing to make for the happiness of his family. I can also understand how conflicted he would feel about walking away from his family. The film perfectly displays the anger, jealousy, and sorrow the protagonist is feeling while making his decision.
The sweet scenes will bring tears to your eyes.
The ethical questions the movie asks are intriguing, especially as our technology advances. The question isn't IF we can clone creatures, for example, but if we should.
The relationship between twin siblings is illustrated. I have a twin sister so I loved that element thrown into the story about family dynamics and that special bond.
Awkwafina gives an excellent performance. She maintains her feisty spark with a subdued, powerful performance.
The family's dog is completely adorable.
The minimalistic design underscores that when we get close to death, we can easily see what's most important in life: our relationships. The small cast allows you to focus on the family.
There's an element of mystery as the story slowly unfolds, revealing more about the characters.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:
Some viewers might get a little bit confused because the timeline goes back and forth.
Mahershala Ali also plays two different characters, which might also confuse viewers at times.
There is a moment when I wondered if the movie would turn into a thriller or horror even, but it passed and the questions it asked were never really answered.
Some viewers have complained that the movie's length is too long and drags on, but I disagree. Dying from a terminal illness must feel like it drags on while experiencing an emotional roller coaster. I thought this film illustrated that well.
Academy Award nominee Glenn Close was underutilized.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
Some profanity and F-bombs
Kids will be bored
An adult gives alcohol to a child.
Talk of death.
You can see my full review on my Movie Review Mom YouTube channel.