Swan Song review Apple TV – a deep dive into the human need for grief

Posted on 8 February 2022
By Lewis Kennedy
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Advancements in technology and science have helped make our everyday lives easier, eliminating the stresses and problems that previous generations would have faced.

But will scientific advancements ever be able to eliminate the need for grief, a natural part of human life?

Is this something that will change us for the greater good, or is it just messing with Gods work (depends if you believe in him). This problem is highlighted in Swan Song, a sci-fi directorial debut for Benjamin Clancy.

Swan Song is set in the near future, where advanced technology is all around us – from a robot waiter to driverless cars.

Even the chocolate bars look futuristic. The film follows Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father who, unknown to his wife and son, is living with a terminal illness.

Cameron cannot bear to see the affects that his illness and death could potentially have on his family, especially after seeing how much he wife Poppy (Naomi Harris) suffered after losing her brother two years ago.

He adopts the services of the experimental Dr Scott (Glenn Close) who will make a clone (named Jack, just to avoid confusion) of Cameron to replace the real Cameron before the affects of his illness become visible.

Previously many films and TV shows have dealt with the topic of cloning as stupid and laughable. One of the most recent examples of this is Paul Rudd’s comedy-drama Living With Yourself.

Although Swan Song takes a more serious approach to cloning, showing how it can be used in more realistic and useful ways.

In contrast the film also explores the controversies and ethical issues of this procedure. Dr Scott introduces Cameron to.

Kate (Awkwafina), a patient who has already undergone the process so that her daughter doesn’t have to grow up without a mother.

There is a frightening element to the story when Dr Scott affirms that in a couple of years this procedure will be “as common as heart transplants”.

We begin to feel that maybe Cameron is being forced into this process, like a lab rat. There is a particularly compelling scene where Cameron has a confrontation with Jack for video-calling his wife to celebrate her pregnancy scan.

This is the first time in which Cameron starts to have doubts, which also causes us, the viewers to have doubts, as it seems like Cameron’s own life is being taken away from him. He no longer gets to experience moments like this with his wife or son, but Jack does.

All Cameron can do is watch Jack experience his life, behind a TV screen, waiting to die. He is constantly wrestling with his conscience about whether he is doing the right thing or not.

Is it reasonable to create a living carbon copy to live an individual’s life for them? Is it not deceiving to the individuals loved ones, however good the intentions may be?

This is a deeply serious and dramatic film. A strong performance from Ali, essentially playing two roles (Cameron and his Jack), adds to emotion to the film.

The expert near-future product design makes the film feel more realistic, allowing viewers to connect with it. A strong sci-fi directorial debut from Benjamin Clancy. And yes, it may be controversial but that is what is great about it- it is debatable and allows us to form our own opinions.

Purple Revolver rating: 4/5

Swan Song is available on Apple TV