It is fascinating to look back and discover that the great plot and conceptual tropes of a genre as prolific as science fiction they have not changed since, for example, Mary Shelley published the seminal ‘Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus’ just over two centuries ago; continuing to be marked by a deeply humanistic aspect represented in a more or less veiled way either in written or audiovisual fiction.
In all this time, and despite the repetition of themes —with their variations—, these types of stories continue as fresh and current as the first day thanks to their universality and the talent with which the authors twist well-known premises to break through, almost without obstacles and at the stroke of existentialism, to the depths of the spectators’ hearts.
‘Swan Song’, debut in the feature film by Benjamin Cleary, winner of the Oscar in 2015 for his fantastic short ‘Stutterer’, is a perfect example of how the umpteenth exploration of the eternal conflict between life, death and second chances through the filter sci-fi can transcend to become one of the best movies of his year. A little gem that is emotional, sensitive, truthful and possesses cinematographic values that are not appropriate for a first-time filmmaker.
Simple, deep, wonderful
The bad thing about cinema – and, above all, its reception as a spectator – is such a visceral art is that, on special occasions, it becomes very difficult to explain how a film can get under your skin and hit the exact keys to overwhelm you and flood your eyes with tears seemingly effortless; but I am going to try to rationalize my experience as much as possible to justify why ‘Swan Song’ is one of the best works we have seen within the genre since jewels such as ‘Ex-Machina’ The ‘The arrival’.
It all begins with the most “superficial” layers – note the quotation marks -; for production values that squeeze every last drop of budget to shape a futuristic universe that bets on minimalism and neatness. In this way, the art direction and the magnificent photography of Masanobu Takayanagi – responsible for titles such as ‘Spotlight’ or ‘Warrior’ – come together in a new example that, with proper precision, the saying that “less is more” is a great reality.
To this should be added the work of Cleary behind the cameras as a director and screenwriter. Beyond its pristine staging and its treatment of the camera, which turns from the rigidity of the tripod to full freedom with tremendous naturalness, the exercise of worldbuilding on which the universe of ‘Swan Song’ is propped up is exemplary; providing the necessary information and key details to make it credible and to focus on what is truly important: emotion.
And it is that, if something raises this delight to a new level, It is the veracity of emotions that are transmitted with the purest simplicity. There is no place here for sugary melodramas tear-jerking resources, but for tremendously human reactions, for a universal moral dilemma with which you instantly connect, for instant empathy with round protagonists and, above all, for a couple of main interpreters who they evoke all of the above with heartbreaking intensity.
Mahershala Ali y Naomie Harris They have given life to two people – not characters – who transcend the frame to make their flesh and bones almost palpable; and they have done it without rehearsals or script readings, limiting themselves to internalizing their roles and dumping all the instincts and sensations absorbed from a project with more than ten years of work behind them. A small miracle in which the nuances are everything, and in which a tear emerging at the right moment is revealed as the greatest possible special effect. Gorgeous.
We would like to give thanks to the author of this post for this remarkable material
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