Swan Song Parent Guide
While the premise is interesting, the script doesn't delve deeply enough to make the story compelling.
Parent Movie Review
Cameron Turner (Mahershala Ali) is dying from an inoperable, metastatic brain tumor. He’s suffering from seizures, one of which will likely kill him some day. With death approaching, he still hasn’t told his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris) or son Cory (Dax Rey) because Cameron is still considering another solution: A revolutionary new technology which would, essentially, clone Cameron before his death and secretly replace him, saving his family the pain of losing him. Even after meeting the clone, Cameron is uneasy about both abandoning his family and replacing himself. To ease his mind, Dr. Scott (Glenn Close) introduces him to Kate (Awkwafina), a woman who has made the swap.
This is going to be the hardest decision of Cameron’s life.
As you might guess, Swan Song is not a fun film. There are some interesting science fiction elements which you could consider entertaining, but they are heavily balanced by the emotional discomfort Cameron experiences throughout the story. Unfortunately, I think the movie does a better job with the sci-fi aspects than it does with the drama. Not that it does anything terribly wrong, but the film just feels somehow flat, and it’s hard to pin down why. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are certainly both doing a good job with the script, but the film lacks the emotional punch I was expecting.
I suspect it’s partially because it doesn’t quite explore the issue it sets out to explore. While the premise is certainly an interesting one, I don’t think the screenwriters really delve into the issues his family could experience. The film is focused primarily on Cameron’s experience and struggle, and while that’s interesting and significant, the story glosses over the family’s perspective. How would his wife feel about it if she knew? What would the consequences be for them if they ever found out about the swap?
Really, the only content concern is profanity, which is mostly concentrated in a verbal dispute around the middle of the film. Apart from that, the film is almost entirely suitable for a teenage audience and up – provided they’re interested in a slower, more philosophical story. For my money, I’d like to see a script which better explores some of the nuances of the premise. No amount of good acting is going to compensate for the nagging questions the film leaves unanswered.Directed by Benjamin Cleary. Starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release December 17, 2021. Updated May 31, 2022
Watch the trailer for Swan Song
Rating & Content Info
Why is Swan Song rated R? Swan Song is rated R by the MPAA for language.
Violence: Some characters are briefly seen shoving one another. A man pushes a pencil into his hand: some blood is seen. A man dreams of an angry outburst in which he throws his son’s video game console. A sick man has seizures.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 14 sexual expletives, 13 uses of scatological profanity, and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: One character is briefly seen smoking.
Page last updated May 31, 2022
Swan Song Parents' GuideHow do you think this “solution” would work in real life? Would people actually be interested in this process? What would some consequences of that be? What are some of the moral ramifications of such a procedure?
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Other films which explore difficult emotional relationships include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Silent Night, and What Dreams May Come. Philosophical science fiction includes options like Ex Machina, Children of Men, Moon, Arrival, Blade Runner, and Gattaca.