Swan Song – Film Review
Director – Todd Stephens
Writer – Todd Stephens
Stars – Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans
Pat (Udo Kier) is a resident of a care home in Sandusky, Ohio, but that is only part of the story. He was once a flamboyant hairdresser to the great and good in the upper echelons of local society, including Mrs Rita Parker Sloan (Dynasty’s Linda Evans), the monstrous Republican society hostess. After a falling out with Rita, his career came to an abrupt halt. Pat is a recent stroke victim and spends his days sneaking cigarettes while wandering the halls of a care home. One day he is visited by Mr Shanrock (Tom Bloom), who has an unexpected proposal. He is offered a ridiculous fee to do the hair of Mrs Parker Sloan one last time. She has died and will appear in an open casket at her funeral. Pat sets off across town to carry out this last assignment on his one-time friend.
This film is really a celebration of Udo Kier. He’s in every scene and while he isn’t a household name, he is certainly a well-known face for a variety of small parts. He was born in Cologne, near the end of World War II (1944). The film that helped launch his career was Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein (1973 – Although Warhol’s contribution was said to be minimal and included one visit to the set and minor involvement in the editing process!) Since that time, Kier has dabbled with Hollywood, with a memorable scene as Hans in My Own Private Idaho (1991) and also appearing as a villain in various films such as The Adventures of Pinocchio and the sequel The New Adventures of Pinocchio! He even played Adolf Hitler in the Amazon Prime Series Hunters. His steely gaze and accent are perfect shorthand for villains in various American films, but he also appeared in many independent films.
While you may think you’ve heard of the director Todd Stephens before, you probably haven’t! Stephens worked on films such as Another Gay Movie (2006) and Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! (2008). This film should do enough to launch his career in earnest!
This film is reminiscent of Lucky, the 2017 release starring an aged Harry Dean Stanton, or indeed the Straight Story, the 1999 release that earned Richard Farnsworth a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor. It’s a quirky feature with Udo Kier holding the show together. It’s a series of set pieces, with Kier as a man from another generation, encountering a variety of people on his trip across the city. It also has a short cameo appearance from Jennifer Coolidge, the undoubted star of HBO series The White Lotus. She has a small but important role as Pat’s hairdressing rival Dee Dee Dale. This is a slight but loveable tale that despite its plot holes puts a smile on your face. It has an impressive love story at its core that gives it depth, but the main point of interest is the performance of its leading man in a fabulous green suit!