Director: Harry Macqueen
Starring: Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.
Supernova is a deeply emotional story about dementia and the end of a life. Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth both give incredible performances as a couple, whose relationship is coming to an end due to Tusker (Tucci) suffering from dementia. They both know it’s getting worse, even though they aren’t speaking about it. The film follows them on a holiday through the Lake District, stopping at a campsite they visited years ago, Sam’s (Firth) childhood home and ending at a Piano concert that Sam is performing.
Not a lot really happens in Supernova, but that doesn’t matter because the film is really about the two characters and their undying love towards each other. This film wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the powerful and poignant performances from both actors. There is so much chemistry between them, that it’s easy to believe that they have loved each other for decades. The love is in their eyes and so is the fear and anger at what is coming.
The film really shines when it is just the two of them on screen. The middle part features a party, where all their friends and family join together for one last time. It’s a really nice sequence and has one of the most heart-breaking scenes of the entire film, where Sam reads the speech that Tusker wrote but can no longer read, but it is when the two share the screen alone together that the magic really shines.
There are a lot of moments of quiet reflection, looking up at the stars, emphasizing how small we all really are. Shots of the English countryside that captures the beauty of the Lake District. Dick Pope deserves a lot of praise for his cinematography on the film. It’s beautiful to watch and captures not only the wide open spaces but the intimacy of the couple’s campervan that they are holidaying in.
Even though this film is dealing with death and the final days of life, there is still room for some humour. Tusker clearly has a wicked sense of humour that is felt throughout the film. His mind is slowly going, but his sharp wit is still there. The mix of humour and sadness blend so well together that you will be laughing one second and crying the next.
The only downside is that there are moments when the dialogue doesn’t feel completely natural, especially with the swearing. It feels strange to hear them both swear when they do. It’s not that they’re not allowed to, but it’s not seamlessly written in, and it can feel a little distracting at points. None of that really matters though.
It’s strange that this film has been released, at least in the UK, so soon after The Father. There aren’t many films that tackle dementia in such a direct way, and both do it very differently. While I found The Father a very cold film, the same can not be said about Supernova. This is a film full of love and warmth. Their relationship feels very real and watching them together, in their final days is incredibly moving and sad. All of this is carried by the performances of Firth and Tucci, both are on top form throughout. Just don’t forget the tissues.