Swan Song review

It’s a wild time to be alive right now, what with the adventure of the last few years, the chaos of British/American politics and now the passing of Elizabeth II. This post is a day later than planned due to yesterday’s bank holiday here in the UK, for the Queen’s state funeral.

While I could wax lyrical on my view of the royal family for hours, I’m leaving it alone – though I did shed a small tear for the only monarch I’ve ever known (to date). It’s just sad when a grandmother passes away, no matter how you slice it and you can’t help but get to thinking about your loved ones, gone or not.

So that in mind, feeling emotionally fragile and comtemplative, this week’s film is a fine lament on legacy, loss and forgiveness – with a banging soundtrack and a wonderfully camp cherry on top.

Swan Song (2021)

“Bury her with bad hair.”

A formerly flamboyant hairdresser takes a long walk across a small town to style a dead woman’s hair.

Genre: Drama ∙ IMDB user rating: 7.0
My score: 4/5 ∙ Runtime: 97 mins

Director: Todd StephensStars: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge


Pat (Kier), a once shit hot hair stylist (and local icon) is seeing out his final years in a dreary nursing home – a place that doesn’t suit him, let’s be real. One day he receives a visit from an old friend’s associate, who states she’s passed away and has requested he be the one to make her presentable before she shuffles into the afterlife (or wherever).

The friend – Rita Parker Sloan (Linda Evans) – is in a funeral home across town, waiting for her very last makeover – but Pat is unsure about the gig. Until he learns of the fee – a whopping $25,000. So begins Pat’s return to the world as he ventures beyond the walls of the home, towards Rita’s final resting place.

While the journey isn’t a long one, it takes Pat to some poignant places as he pays his respects to his late lover, looks up old friends and reacquaints himself with past enemies, including former muse turned frenemy, Dee Dee Dale (Coolidge). Will he make it to Rita’s side in one piece and send her on in the only way he knows how?

Possibly, but at what cost?

“Who could forget the Liberace of Sandusky?”
“Was I that butch?”


I loved this once it got going. It has a really pleasing soundtrack, looks lovely in its shabbiness and contains several moments of such beauty, they stuck in my throat. My favourite scene might be the one Pat shares with a one time client in a charity shop.

As Pat revisits old haunts, memory and fantasy blur so you can never be sure what’s 100% real but this lends it a dreamlike quality that works well. The segment where he catches up with his old friend Eunice is especially emotional and feels like wish fulfilment. Who doesn’t think back to the things we should’ve, could’ve said to the people we’ve loved?

All in all this is a real work of art, a beautiful lament on gay identity, ageing, legacy and forgiveness. It definitely made me think about what I’ll leave behind when I shuffle off – hopefully something even half as fabulous.



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