“Swan Song” (US Rated R)
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, Awkwafina
Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Science fiction
Where to watch: Apple TV+
What does it say about an actor when nearly every performance seems to be the performance of a lifetime?
Two-time Supporting Actor Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali appears to be giving his all in everything he does, especially with his Oscar-winning roles, like the drug-dealer with a heart in “Moonlight”, and uptight musical phenom in “Green Book” (with both films going on to win Best Picture as well!)
And now he takes on the leading role in the Apple TV+ original sci-fi/fantasy drama film “Swan Song”, delivering quite possibly his most unforgettable performance yet, and one that could put him in contention for a possible third Oscar.
Set in the near future, Ali plays a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness. He’s presented with a controversial alternative solution to shield his family from his death: replace himself with a carbon copy clone.
As Ali’s character Cameron has to interact with his clone, we get to see him playing opposite himself. It is quite a remarkable sight, and both incredibly natural yet unbelievably uncomfortable.
The role allows Ali to convey a mix of powerful emotions, as Cameron has to deal with his own mortality, but also has to come to grips with what he’s sanctioned with in this bizarre science experiment.
While Ali’s performance is the biggest draw of the movie, it’s not the only one. Naomie Harris – also Oscar-nominated for her performance in “Moonlight” – is fantastic as Cameron’s wife Poppy.
Multi-Oscar nominee Glenn Close is kind of creepy but, as always, a joy to watch as the doctor who heads the cloning institute. And Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians”, “The Farewell”) helps to lighten the sometimes-somber mood with some offbeat humor.
Overall, “Swan Song” feels very much like an episode of the dystopian Netflix anthology series “Black Mirror”, providing some interesting perspectives on the possible use of technology in the future. But despite all that technology, death and the loss of loved ones will still be something that will face and haunt the human race.
This reality, combined with a healthy dose of surprising suspense, makes “Swan Song” worth seeing, and allows Ali to shine and prove he’s more than deserving of being mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest actors today.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.