When being in a relationship for a long time, you’ve been on many highs but also many lows. From celebrating your one year anniversary to getting married but maybe also from having to deal with the loss of a baby to a death in the close family. Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have battled through the hard times by holding on to each other and their love. Still, sadly, they’re now facing the biggest challenge in their relationship in “Supernova”, the latest movie by writer/director Harry Macqueen (“Hinterland”).
When seeing this beautiful couple for the first time, you instantly light up because of their remarkable chemistry, funny moments and love for each other. The pair is on a road trip, and during their journey, they stop at memorable places from their past to visit family before Sam’s comeback piano gig. However, it doesn’t take long before you realize that the couple also has to deal with a lot of pain behind the joyful and loving moments. Tusker has been diagnosed with dementia, and while it’s still in its early stage, his disease is already taking a toll on Tusker’s personal and professional life. As a writer, he finds it hard to put words out there on paper as he struggles to write his next novel.
While he seems to keep the real impact of dementia hidden from Sam, Sam notices the worsening condition. While Sam reassures Tusker that he will be there for him, the stubborn Tusker knows that if his dementia takes over his life, he might become a burden for Sam instead of a loved one. Therefore he considers the difficult options available while he still remembers what he does.
Yes, the topic of dementia itself might be a gloomy one but the movie isn’t that at all. While there are moving and sad moments, there are also many amusing, warm and welcoming ones.
One of the reasons why this movie is so impactful without becoming too overwhelming is the out-of-this-world acting. Firth (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy“, “1917“) is as superb as ever. You can feel the pain and conflicts Sam is going through. On the one hand, Firth’s character wants to be strong and fierce to make sure that he’s the best husband for Tusker, but on the other, it’s clear that Sam becomes buried under his emotions more and more until his fear of being alone consumes him.
While First absolutely excels, it’s Tucci (“The Children Act”, “Spotlight”) who gives the most outstanding performance in “Supernova”. Having to deal with a fragile topic, you have to bring out all the emotions without overplaying or underplaying it, and that’s precisely what Tucci does. His subtle gestures touch you all the way through the screen, and his jokes are filled with love and humour, but also with nervosity and sarcasm. During the heaviest and intense scenes, you can hear a needle drop, but when the dark humour and wittiness sets in, there will be a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. One of the most impactful, touching and sincere scenes is, without a doubt, the surprise dinner one.
There are many moments in “Supernova” during which you wonder whether you’re watching a movie or just a real-life struggle of a loving and caring couple. Not only because of the stunning performances but also because of the impressive work by the entire film crew. Macqueen decided to shoot in Lake District, and cinematographer Dick Pope (“Motherless Brooklyn“, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”) knows how to find the most lovely, intimate and welcoming spots out there.
By using wide shots, he gives the audience the chance to soak in all the beautifulness of the landscape. Using more close-ups during the heartbreaking conversation, he makes you feel like you’re in the room with the couple witnessing their poignant moments in real life. That real-life feeling is being heightened even more because of the very subtle and gentle editing by Chris Wyatt (“Ammonite”, “God’s Own Country“). If you add the moving piano score by Keaton Henson (“X+Y”, Shelter) to this movie, then you know that the film is packed with emotions.
While Macqueen’s movie could have turned out to be one of the more mediocre and flat ones, “Supernova” became everything but that. The strong acting performance, the eye-catching and dreaming cinematography, the gentle editing and the touching score make sure that there’s no dry eye in the cinema.