Every once in a while, a movie will come along that is incredibly emotive, truly captivating, but are somewhat low key. Movies like this are usually dropped into cinemas with very little fanfare, will then have to work for their audience, and will often get overlooked.
One of these movies is Supernova, which is currently playing in UK cinemas. I’m bringing it to your attention via this review, because I don’t want it to pass you by.
Supernova is a British romantic drama, from writer/director Harry Macqueen. The film stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, and tells the story of Sam and Tusker – two men in their 60s, who embark on an emotional road trip to the Lake District.
Now I know this might not sound like the most exciting premise, but stick with me, it gets better. Sam and Tusker have been partners for over 20 years, but since Tusker was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Sam has become determined to spend some quality time with his boyfriend before the condition worsens.
As the pair go about their trip, they reconnect with old friends and family, and make the most of their time together. But before long, a secret is uncovered which has the potential to put a significant strain on their relationship, and could bring their journey to an abrupt end.
Supernova is a powerful story about love and mortality. The film is a character-driven piece, which places its focus on the relationship between the two central leads, and is guaranteed to draw out a tear or two.
Now before approaching Supernova, there are two very important things you need to know. The first thing is that the movie spends the majority of its time with Sam and Tusker, and while other characters do appear in the film, this is largely a two-hander.
Supernova is a showcase of the talents of Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, and both actors are simply marvellous. Their chemistry is outstanding and they make this love story feel so real.
This movie would not work as well if they were not cast in these roles. And while I believe they are both integral to the success of this picture, I do need to single Firth out in particular, who is wonderful in every scene.
Taking on the role of Sam, Firth is tasked with playing the part of a man who is facing an uncertain future. He knows that when Tusker finally succumbs to dementia, he will end up alone, and yet his only concern is the well-being of his partner.
Firth’s performance is touching, honest, and so damn believable. He plays this role with conviction and plenty of heart.
The second thing you need to know about Supernova is that this movie is melancholic from start to finish. It is a tale which looks at how dementia impacts a long-term relationship, and that means whatever way you cut it, this is a very sombre story.
Throughout the entire picture there is sadness in every frame – a general feeling that the road trip is one last hurrah, before dementia takes hold completely. It should be a fun journey, but it can only ever be bittersweet, and that is made clear every step of the way.
At one point, Tusker comments: “You’re not supposed to mourn someone while they’re still alive” – and yet that’s exactly what happens. Both the characters and the audience mourn the inevitable death of the relationship, because we all know that’s what lies ahead.
But if this movie is so sad, why should you watch it? Well, the aforementioned performances from Firth and Tucci is the main reason to catch this film, but then there is the touching portrayal of a same-sex relationship, the excellent use of music to help convey emotion, and the picturesque shots of the English countryside which make the UK look stunning.
You should also watch this movie because sadness or no sadness, Supernova offers a realistic portrayal of dementia. It doesn’t pull any punches, it doesn’t skirt around the difficult topics, it simply makes it clear what living with this illness entails.
Supernova also offers up a take on dementia which is different to other recent movies that have focused on the same subject. Films such as Relic and The Father have presented their own approach to dementia, and Supernova does something a little different.
If you are looking for a story which is filled with gut-wrenching human drama, which is expertly delivered, then go and see Supernova. Go and see it for the story, for Tucci and Firth, for the music, the cinematography, and the powerful exploration of love and compassion.
This is a movie which should not be missed. Keep it on your radar, and be sure to find time for it amongst all the blockbusters that are currently doing the rounds.