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SWAN SONG gets 7/10 Once more in the spotlight


Directed by Todd Stevens

Starring Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans

7/10

Swan Song is loosely inspired by a local celebrity from director Todd Stevens’ hometown of Sandusky, Idaho. Hairdresser Patrick Pitsenberger probably represents the first awareness of a queer identity in Steven’s life, and this pant suit wearing, gender-fluid icon of fabulousness is brought to larger than life reality by actor Udo Kier. Stuck in a retirement facility, and slowly deteriorating, Patrick’s services are once more sought out when a rich socialite’s final request is for him to style her hair before she is buried. Using this as motivation to break out of the old age home, the flamboyant Mr Pat, walks the streets of the small rural town one last time, reliving his glory days and dealing with the memories of the past.

This film is a relatively simple story presented in a straightforward manner, but that’s OK. Swan Song knows what its chief asset is, and allows Udo Kier to shine in this diva outing. His performance is mesmerising as the faded camp bastion finding himself again, while melancholically confronting the ghosts that still haunt him. It’s a meditation on past glories and the rigours of ageing, but also a bitter-sweet celebration of icons of a bygone era. This allows Kier to explore those darker aspects, while still having the swagger to draw everyone’s attention, and boy Mr Pat can work it, baby!

Swan Song also acts as a subtle potted history of Queer culture, touching on issues and historical events of importance. From the community and sanctuary of the club, through AIDS, to marriage equality, this is handled in a genuine and touching way – not as a mere observer, but rather as one that has lived through and been impacted by the events as they’ve unfolded. As an audience you can see Todd Stephen’s genuine attempt to truly capture the spirit of a small-town icon of his youth, albeit in his final days.

Swan Song is a great stage for Kier to strut with a performance that both demands and deserves your attention. It’s part celebration of past glamour, part reminder of hard battles, and a complete show stopper.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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