German character actor Udo Kier, a veteran of over 220 films, delivers an absolutely wonderful performance in Swan Song, about a once flamboyant hairdresser, real-life Pat Pitsenbarger, who is called back into action. In his youth, Pat was the hairdresser to the rich and famous in Sandusky, Ohio. Now, he resides in a nursing home, smoking his secret stash of More cigarettes as the days go by. Unexpectedly, he gets a request to do hair and make-up for a former friend, Rita (Linda Evans), who has just passed away. Pat escapes the nursing home to get to the funeral home, taking a long trek across the small town and meeting people of various walks of life along the way.
Swan Song, written and directed by Todd Stephens (Gypsy 83), works best in its quiet and reflective moments. Pat's partner is long gone—a victim of AIDS—and on his journey to the funeral home, he discovers that the house he lived in for years has been demolished. He also wants Rita to beg him for forgiveness for turning her back on him all those years ago, but she's dead now. Pat's journey to inner peace has a few big, wacky comedy moments, and they are okay, but don't work as well as the smaller, dramatic moments, of which there are plenty.
Swan Song opens Friday, August 13, at the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center and will also be available on VOD starting that same day.
*** stars (out of four)