Swan Song

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Flash reaction: Udo Kier. Preparing a gall-bladder kabob in Warhol’s Flesh for Frankenstein? How about Johnny Mnemonic’s seedy handler? There’s the criminally connected Friedrich in Dragged Across Concrete. This week adds real-life queer icon Pat Pitsenbarger, the man who put the Pride in the Pride of Sandusky, wasting away in a nursing home. Of the 270 (!) films to his credit, Kier’s latest drops somewhere in the top 5. Like the contract killer pulled out of retirement for one last hit — he was once the most sought after coiffeur in town — Mr. Pat was requested by one of his late clients (“a demanding Republican monster”) to prepare her hair and makeup for the open-casket sendoff. Her lawyer offers $25,000 to do the job. Why the overcompensation? Rita (Linda Evans) wanted to go to her grave with bygones gone. His advice to the lawyer? “Bury her with bad hair.” That soon changes. The minute he gets around people after a flight from his assisted living facility, he reverts to his old flamboyant self. When referred to by his old nickname, “The Liberace of Sandusky” he blushingly replies, “Was I that butch?” A touchingly poignant scene with a one-time client puts Pat in touch with the character-defining getup: a hospital-wall green pantsuit topped by a purple fedora. In the past, Udo Kier dined on heart. This time, he’ll break yours with what could be the performance of his career. Writer-director Todd Stephens (Another Gay Movie) pulls off what could be the surprise hit of the summer. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 45 minutes
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