Udo Kier shines bright in Amazon Prime's instant queer classic Swan Song

The latest film from gay director Todd Stephens is a fabulous crowd pleaser you should immediately add to your watch list.

A flamboyantly dressed old man smoking on a couch

Udo Kier shines bright as an aging bon vivant in the new Swan Song, available to stream on Amazon Prime. This nigh unmissable film is bound to end up on many end-of-year LGBTQ+ lists.

Playing the part of hairdresser Pat Pitsenbarger, this is Kier’s first leading role. As the film opens, his flamboyant character walks onstage and into the spotlight, declaring, “I’m Mr. Pat. And I’m back!”

He then wakes up in his nursing home.

Flashbacks and daydreams permeate Swan Song, which is a story about forgiveness and friendship. When asked to fulfill someone’s last wish, Pat elopes from the nursing home and revisits many of his old stomping grounds first. While doing so, Mr. Pat realizes how much gay life has changed since his younger years. And the younger queers realize how much Pat advanced the entire cause simply by being who he is.

While Kier shines bright in so many ways, here are some highlights:


  1. Pat is a dying breed. As soon as we meet his character, ‘Mr. Pat,’ we want more. ‘More’ is also his subliminal cigarette brand. He takes long drags and never ashes his smoke; ashes are just dust in the wind, though cigarettes are known as ‘cancer sticks.’ The more brightly Pat shines, the more this foreshadows what’s to come.


  1. Pat’s gemstones get in your eyes. Watching Pat smoke does feel a little habit forming, but each time he slips on another one of his old rings, smoke doesn’t get in your eyes, but his costume jewellery does!

  1. Pat likes to improvise. With few costume changes, his character accessorises well with whatever is at hand. This might be a pink hat, an old chandelier, or his monogrammed, two-tone green sunglasses. He always wears it well.


  1. Pat knows how to play. In a very sweet scene, he runs into some kids who are jumping rope. Pat watches them from a distance until they invite him over. He plays coy at first, then joins right in seeing it as a choreographic challenge.


  1. Pat pays it forward. One of the best lines in the film is, ‘I know what you’re thinking. How can someone so flawless possibly be on Social Security?’ Whenever he scores cold cash, Pat is a generous tipper.


  1. Pat is a local icon. Sue from The Encore Shop says, “Who could forget the Liberace of Sandusky?” while character Dustin confides, “Even though I never really knew you, I want you to know you changed my life.”


  1. Pat’s craft is his calling card. He tenderly restyles a nursing home resident’s bedhead, complete with a scalp massage. Later, Pat helps distraught Miss Velma Humpback with her wig ahead of a closing night drag performance. In the final scene, Pat uses his antique scissors and favorite product to make Linda Evans’s character Rita Parker Sloane look presentable during her viewing hours. This is a gift for both Rita and Pat, like all 105 minutes of ‘Swan Song.’

The latest movie from gay director Todd Stephens is the kind film lovers and critics alike crave: Kier’s elegance will mesmerize you, the score will enchant you, and the entire story will tug at your heartstrings. Truly, Swan Song is a welcome respite from all the darkness of today’s world.

Thanks to Stephens and Kier, it now joins the canon of candid LGBTQ+ scripts. To the entire cast and crew, bravo!

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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