Despite Ali, sci-fi ‘Swan Song’ doubles design over details

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FILM CRITIC

“SONG OF THE SWAN”

Rated R. On Apple TV +.

Category B-

Mahershala Ali delivers a deeply touching performance in the otherwise flawed sci-fi drama “Swan Song,” which takes place in the near future, when medics can create a DNA paired clone for a dying patient, a clone that possesses all of the memories and characteristics of the patient, except he would be free from any disease that would have killed his original human.

The film asks us to believe that its protagonist, an artist and designer and practitioner of origami by the name of Cameron Turner (Ali) is only the fourth person to stand this trial, and that he can decide whether or not to say to his beloved wife, Poppy (Naomie Harris, who appeared with Ali in Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” about the existence of her double. Otherwise, the change will happen unwittingly or unwittingly Without the couple’s cute young son, Corey (Dax Rey).

It’s like a slightly less (?) Scary version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, isn’t it? The opening scenes combine flashbacks to Cameron and Poppy’s first meeting on a train and a reunion Cameron has with Dr Jo Scott (Glenn Close), who apparently only has one other patient in a lavish futuristic hospice / retreat in a forest (film was shot in Vancouver, BC). Cameron is brought there to meet his double, who is advised to call him “Jack” (also Ali). Cameron has doubts. Dr Jo sends her to meet a clone named Kate (Awkwafina) who has already replaced a young woman dying of cancer. The real Kate stays at the Mountain Retreat, where she befriends Cameron.

Mahershala Ali and Awkwafina star in “Swan Song” on Apple TV +.

Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary, making his film debut, “Swan Song” has a believable central concept. But her details don’t match, starting with what makes Cameron the fourth person to undergo this obviously very expensive procedure? Wouldn’t he be behind all the billionaires? Why doesn’t Poppy, a French-speaking artist, teacher and musician, who is otherwise an ideal life companion, notice that her husband is gravely ill and torn by his desire to confess everything to him or cancel it all?

Cameron spends an enormous amount of time looking in the mirrors. He looks just as intently at Jack, his mirrored replacement.

The film’s teal and beige color scheme is a decorative distraction. The same goes for Jay Wadley’s emo score (“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”). Cleary inserts a lot of short snippets of memories of Poppy and Cameron alone and with their friends and relatives. In other scenes, Cameron “watches the lens feed,” popping through his double’s eyes, and, yes, snooping on the new “Cameron” and Poppy is also creepy.

Like the two Kates, Awkwafina, who can also be seen in the hit “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, reminds us that her acting career is in full swing. As Dr Jo’s fellow psychologist, the talented Adam Beach (“Flags of Our Fathers”) has little to do. Ali brings his charisma and understated intensity to the role, drawing us into the story more successfully than his other elements.

(“Swan Song” contains profanity.)

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