Udo Kier has been an iconic actor for many decades – but probably hasn’t had a bigger fanfare in Hollywood as he should’ve done. The German character actor has worked with the likes of Lars von Trier, Gus van Sant, Werner Herzog, and Dario Argento. He has also played incredible horror characters such as Frankenstein, Dr Henry Jekyll, and has even dabbled in vampires. Udo Kier deserve every legendary status afforded.
Now Kier stars in sentimental and sparkling story Swan Song.
Directed by Todd Stephens, and based on a real-life character, Swan Song sees Kier play Pat Pitsenbarger, a retired hairdresser who lives a grey and miserable life in a retirement home. When an old client dies, Pat is asked to take care of her hair and make up for the funeral. Making a daring escape, Pat travels back to his old town and revisits the ghosts he had left behind so many years ago.
Udo Kier is a mesmerising performer and here is no different. He layers Pat with kindness and generosity. At times acerbic, but no less charitable, Kier brings a charisma to the story that lifts off the screen. As he traipses from the retirement home to the town and finally to the funeral, Pat goes through an abundance of emotions made affecting through Kier’s sensitive and stirring performance. He is flanked by Jennifer Coolidge and Michael Urie who offer great support.
Pun somewhat intended but it does drag in place. The narrative doesn’t sustain its length and there are big dips in attention that can hamper your enjoyment of the film. There are some character choices that stretch the story beyond its means and some silent brooding sequences that could have been pacier.
That being said, sometimes the slow, hazy pace matches the small-town summer vibes which encapsulate Pat’s journey. With a lesser screenwriter, Pat would find fortune and fame as he is flamboyant and fabulous. But this is more intimate. This is a big, vibrant spirit battling small town prejudice and loss at such a young age.
Swan Song is worth a watch for the charming and outstanding Kier performance as well as the tender approach to a loving man.