Clones on film tend to mean trouble. In a Star Wars context, clones attack. In Gemini Man, they represent a past you can’t escape. In the Jurassic films, they’re rampaging prehistoric creatures ready to well and truly ruin your theme park day. But in Swan Song – the debut feature from writer-director Benjamin Cleary – a clone offers the prospect of salvation, relieving the pain of those you love. In the film, Mahershala Ali stars as terminally-ill Cameron, who faces a choice: does he reveal the truth of his situation to wife Poppy (Naomie Harris) and his kids and put them through emotional hell? Or does he secretly replace himself with a clone so they never know he was taken from them too soon? It’s a hearbreaking predicament – take a look at the film’s trailer here.
Despite its Black Mirror-esque premise, Swan Song looks less like a knife-twisting horror show than sci-fi in the mould of Eternal Sunshine or Never Let Me Go – using its futuristic premise to explore the pain of the human experience, as Cameron wrestles with the conundrum of how to leave his family behind. Going by the trailer, this could be a multiple-tissue-box watch. Considering this is Cleary’s first film, he’s assembled an astonishing cast here – with Glenn Close and Awkwafina joining Ali and Harris.
Swan Song will be streaming on Apple TV+, joining the service on 17 December – and while you wait for the film to arrive, be sure to keep an eye on empireonline.com for an emotional, revealing trailer breakdown interview with Cleary himself.