Written & Directed by Harry Macqueen
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are among the most watchable movie stars out there. Even when in uninteresting projects, their performances are endlessly watchable. They carry themselves as true professionals, able to imbue life into pretty much any character in any movie. They may now be in the sunset of their careers, both 60 years old now and not likely to serve as the star of any romantic comedies anytime soon, but as Supernova proves, it may be worth filmmakers time to create opportunities to feature these two indelible actors. They have brought such joy and inspiration to us throughout their careers, and while the characters here may be fading away with old age, I certainly hope that doesn’t necessarily happen with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci and their acting careers.
Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have decided to go on a road trip through the country with their canine companion as part of a journey to concert for Sam, who is a pianist. They re-tread through age-old memories of camping under the stars by a beautiful lake. And along the way, they visit with family at the family country house. Lilly and Clive are gracious hosts, but Sam soon realizes that this trip and this stop have been planned for months by Tusker, who is suffering from early onset dementia, as an opportunity to see all their friends and family and celebrate a life well lived together before he loses any sense of who he was. The party is a hit, but this harsh reality of a new life together due to Tusker’s condition is difficult for Sam to see and accept. The two loving men struggle to come to terms with their life moving forward, while ensuring they make the most of every second they have left together before Tusker is lost to this horrible condition.
Supernova is a rather swift, 94 minute film which has no greater ambition than telling this small, touching story about the relationship between two apparently lovely men who have loved each other for a long time. The film is not without its confrontations and arguments, given their current situation, but at the end, its clear Sam and Tusker love each other and want the best for each other. As a result, for as much a story like this can be, it’s a lovely film. Dementia is a horrible thing and can truly steal away our loved ones, but as one of the characters says in the film, sadness at losing something is only confirmation of how great it was while it was here. Perhaps pretty cliched wisdom, but still true in my experiences nonetheless. Likewise, the titular analogy is both heartfelt and true, as well as obvious and commonplace. It dispels no deep philosophical wisdom, but it doesn’t make it any less true. As we wither away and eventually move on, our earthly impact is felt by becoming a part of those we leave behind, just as stars that supernova spread their stardust throughout the universe and becomes a part of everything. Cheesy, but honestly a beautiful sentiment.
And I think that’s a great way to sum up this film: cheesy, but honestly a beautiful sentiment. It’s concise, as I said, but communicates its heartfelt message clearly and with emotion, largely aided by two great lead performances who are perfectly cast as Sam and Tusker. Firth and Tucci have a lifetime of career defining roles, and while these might not be added to the top of the heap, they are incredible proof of their abilities and sensibilities developed over a lifetime of performance. Never overstated, or understated, their performances marry perfectly with the straightforwardness of the film itself, taking us on an emotionally affecting journey we never hope we have to make ourselves. Another filmmaker may have added a denouement to the film, filling it out to a more standard 110-120 minutes, or perhaps shortened the extended back and forth between Sam and Tusker at the end of the film to allow the space for a resolving denouement. Instead, we get only what is needed to see the relationship between Sam and Tusker for what it is: loving. And that’s all that matters. A perfectly lovely, emotionally resonate film.