Todd Stephen has made one of my favorite films thus far this year: ‘Swan Song.’ It’s a wonderful November-of-my-year type of film that touched me deeply. It stars Udo Kier as Pat Pitsenbarger, an aging hairdresser living in a facility. He gets a visit from a lawyer who asks him to fix the hair of his old client Rita parker Sloan (Linda Evans) who left specific instructions on her will that she be done by him. Reticent at first (she had left him as a client) but he reconsiders when he gets offered $25,000 to do the job. He then does a walk back to Sandusky, Ohio (where he used to live) not only to do this but to tie up all the loose ends of his life.
I always say this, but maybe my older age has made me appreciate more these films of the ‘this is my life’ genre. Some of the situations here may be forced (the screenplay can be awkward) but I felt a lot of familiarity with the story. He first visits the cemetery where his ex-lover is buried (he dies of AIDS) and then finds out that the house where they used to live has been demolished. He also confronts his assistant, played by Jennifer Coolidge, who opened a shop across from him and tole all his clients. There’s a whole of bitterness and humor there, and it’s very sassy and campy, all served with delicious joy by Kier. His flamboyance never crosses to caricature, and there’s a certain sort of familiarity with his characterization that makes him relatable to everyone. It’s my favorite male actor performance so far this year.
I always gravitate towards films that touch me. I know this film has imperfections, but I had an emotional reaction to it, and for me, the heart is always stronger when touched.