Do you believe in love at first sight? Or love over the transfer of an earbud?
That’s the subject of “Sway,” this year’s holiday ad from Apple. It follows a woman walking down a snow-dusted street. She briefly stops to whip out her iPhone X and put on Sam Smith’s “Palace”—transmitted through her AirPods, natch—and the world transforms into a private stage that she dances wistfully across.
The story picks up when she slams into a handsome stranger, who catches her mid-twirl. As they gaze into each other’s faces, lives transforming and whatnot, the woman puts one of her AirPods into his ears, creating a connection that enables them to move together.
The stars of “Sway” are actually married professional dancers, who met while auditioning for a dance company in New York City.
You can feel their affinity as they dance through the glistening foundations of their relationship. The choreography is deceptively light-footed, orchestrated to feel like spontaneous intimacy; some moments are breathtaking, like when the man boosts the woman into the air for a flip.
“Sway” ends with a classic trope: As the couple draw near for a kiss, the magical darkness gives way to the raw light of reality. None of this has happened. They are simply strangers who bumped into each other, but who feel the tug of what could be.
“Move someone this holiday,” the piece concludes.
Apple likes to think of its holiday films as “a greeting card from the brand to the world,” which is an apt description: They give Apple a chance to tell stories that diverge from the codes that inform its work throughout the rest of the year. The results are often surprising. Last year’s piece was a strange, heartwarming fable about inclusion, featuring a lonely Frankenstein.
Check out “Frankie” below, as well as the classic Apple holiday spot “Misunderstood” from 2o13.