‘Swan Song’ review: Dying Mahershala Ali wonders whether to send the clone

Looks like it was yesterday, but it was actually seven months ago when an episode of Amazon Studios’ “Solos” series starred Anthony Mackie as a dying family man who concludes a difficult alliance with a clone that will soon take its place.

Now comes the Apple TV + theatrical / streaming release “Swan Song,” starring Mahershala Ali as a dying family man who makes a difficult alliance with a clone who will take his place. Both productions feature actors who manage to create two identical yet different characters, and both productions are warm, intermittently comical but mostly emotional, delving deep into heavy existential territory. But “Swan Song” is the most impactful work in large part because talented writer-director Benjamin Cleary has the largest canvas in a feature film, allowing him to add more nuances of color and nuance. .

Set for the near future with mandatory vehicle and smart device upgrades as fashion remains true to today, “Swan Song” is a beautifully shot film, oscillating between “current” events and the history of love between Cameron (Ali) and his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris), who meet cute on a train, eventually get married and have a son (Dex Rey) and go through tough times including the death of the well- twin brother Poppy’s beloved, Andre (Nyasha Hatendi). But everything is beautiful these days, especially since Poppy is pregnant.

A problem. A tragic problem that changes life. Cameron is terminally ill with a rapidly spreading disease that causes him to collapse without warning. He has managed to keep his state a secret, but time is running out – so Cameron takes a secret trip to Arra Labs, a remote facility where pioneer Dr Jo Scott (Glenn Close) has developed a treatment whereby she can clone a human. to be and transfer not only their physical characteristics but their personalities, their memories, their subconscious, all of that. Once Cameron is dead, Cameron 2.0 will take over, unaware that he is a clone. He’s just going to believe he’s Cameron because he’s Cameron.

Of course, it’s never so transparent and straightforward in the cloning movies. Cameron is reluctant to undertake the procedure, which will result in a double lie: first, not telling Poppy he is dying, then allowing this new Cameron, who is the same as the old Cameron but l it’s really, to spend the next few decades as Poppy’s husband and father of her children. Heavy thing!

“Swan Song” plunges into mind-blowing territory when Cameron is allowed to meet his clone, who so far knows he’s a clone but won’t know he’s a clone once Cameron is dead. Cameron also befriends another patient, Kate (Awkwafina), who is spending her final days at the facility after her clone has already taken her life. Watching all of this, you can’t help but wonder what YOU would do if you were Cameron or Kate. Thanks to the brilliant and nuanced work of the great Mahershala Ali, our thoughts are with both Cameron.

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