According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, people facing up with the certainty of death go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression ( once they realize how pointless bargaining is) and eventually acceptance. In Swan Song, however, technology provides them with something to bargain with and for.
It’s said by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince that love means to see our partner unique in the world. We, when finding out true love, will feel totally understood and accepted, which is just desirable if we are honest about ourselves. However, in “Swan Song,” which is set in the future, Cameron (Mahershala Ali) faces an existential crisis. What if the greatest conceivable display of his love for his wife, Poppy (Naomie Harris), is based on a massive falsehood that prevents him from ever feeling truly seen again? Focusing on the questions of identity, integrity, and grief, this movie eliminates all inflexibility by the complicated, devoted acting of its celebrities and the in-depth exploration of the issues it mentions.
Cameron has kept his fatal condition a secret from Poppy. He knows an advanced technology that will spare Poppy and their son Cory (Dax Rey) from a horrible loss, but it won’t function if he tells anyone about it. With this technology, a new, healthy Cameron version 2.0 can be created without a loss of memories, which can take over the life of the dying Cameron as the old one passes away peacefully on his own.
At first, the movie flashed back to the first meeting of Cameron and Poppy on a train. Following that is the explanation of his situation and his choice in a gradual way. Coming back to the present, we see messages left to him by Dr. Scott, pressing him to make a decision soon and warning him that if he tells Poppy the truth about his prognosis, he would no longer have a choice. Obviously, the proposal of Dr. Scott is only feasible if he acts quickly and keeps his wife in the dark.
In detail, the offer of Dr. Scott is: Other than eliminating demise, it’s possible to re-make a new “you” who is identical to even your closest relatives. Cameron 2.0 (also Jack in the final stages of development) will take over Cameron’s consciousness, erasing the fact that he is not the original Cameron. As a result, Poppy, Cory, and all of his friends, family, and coworkers will believe Jack is the original Cameron, as will the new Cameron. There is only one person, who is the true Cameron, to know that his life span is a few months left alone and he doesn’t have a chance to see his family again. Will Cameron sacrifice his family’s comfort in his final days for the idea that he is sparing them pain?
To make it even more challenging for him to make a decision, writer/director Benjamin Cleary plays a hard game when letting Cameron witness how ruined Poppy was by loss before. And more surprisingly, she is pregnant. Comprehensibly, it is too difficult for him to abandon her with 2 children, struggling to look after them as well as to handle her depression. But he will be plagued by the fact that he is deceiving her. Is leaving her with a lie, in contrast to intimacy, even more of a loss than death?
In Swan Song, the world is designed so realistic that hardly can viewers be aware of the integrated technology’s existence, thanks to Cleary and production designer Annie Beauchamp. Dr. Scott’s facility, situated in a remote location and surrounded by nature, is practically heavenly. There is another patient, starring Awkwafina, whose new double is visited by Cameron as he is weighing his choices to see the system’s condition. Although the performances of Awkwafina and Harris are incredible and sophisticated, it is Ali that makes the most outstanding impression when playing two roles at the same time, describing a naturally reserved and introverted person. Also, all of the complex feelings that both Camerons are experiencing as they attempt to make sense of their unique relationship are fully conveyed through his performance.
The term “swan song” comes from an old legend that swans, whose honks aren’t particularly rhythmic, perform a single exquisite song immediately before they die. It is used to describe a special and memorable final appearance by an artist or athlete. Likewise, it implies not only the decision of Cameron about his definitional life when he faces up to an upcoming death but also his thought of the expanding notion of himself to include something made in a lab.
“Swan Song” is now broadcast in theaters and available on Apple TV+.