What does it mean to love. And to loss. How do the relationships we share define us and shape us as people. And how do we cope when these relationships sadly have to be let go. These are the central questions of Harry Macqueen’s breathtakingly raw exploration of love and its meaning in Supernova. And you’ll need a good box of tissues to help you get through this one.
Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), partners for 20 years, travel across England to the Lake District, reuniting with friends and family. As Tusker is diagnosed with early onset dementia, the pair spend as much time together as they can before Tusker dies.
Best described as a simple story of two people on one last road trip together, Supernova is a broad study of the notions of love and how we react when we have to come to terms with its loss. Director Harry Macqueen focuses on the examination of the interpersonal relationship that exists between our protagonists, Sam and Tusker, a loving couple who have made a life together and who are now faced with a sad future that can’t be turned back. Macqueen’s focus is on the silent moments that exist between these two characters, and his resulting film is sure to have you welling up in tears.
Colin Firth takes the lead in Supernova as Sam, an esteemed concert pianist who has long given up on his art, and who has to come to terms with a future that neither he nor his lover could have ever predicted. Firth’s performance as Sam is one shadowed by grief and the inevitable, and this is a side to Firth that we’ve never really seen before. His focus as an actor in this film is pinned to one emotion alone, and as he desperately fights for every last moment with his beloved Tusker we see a man coming to terms with the inevitable and undergoing the most profoundly human moments of his life. Firth’s performance is compellingly brave and he really invests his audience in the narrative and character study presented in Supernova.
Playing opposite Firth in Supernova is Stanley Tucci, and as he is prone to do he completely steals the movie in every single scene. As a lauded and respected writer, Tusker is a totally extraverted character and is the centre of attention in every scene he appears in. He is also suffering from early-onset dementia, and a deep pain is brought on by his condition that he can’t escape. Tucci is amazing in his performance going from the life and soul of the party in one moment, to a complete shell of a man in the next. His performance is entirely honest in its realness, and anyone who has lived with a relative who has suffered from dementia will see his performance and assert its realness. Tucci’s bravery is to be celebrated with this performance and I assert that he’s never been better in a role.
Both Firth and Tucci are brilliant in their performances, and you feel the weight of emotions that exists between them and the end that awaits their great love due to an uncontrollable condition and outcome. Supernova is a film about how we must say goodbye, and how in essence the act of saying goodbye to the one we love is the ultimate expression of our love for that person, in that we will continue to hold onto their memory, and onto them because of this. I myself found this film incredibly hard to watch, having lost members of my own family to dementia while now still witnessing others suffering from such an awful affliction, and Macqueen’s film is a powerful love letter to the expression of love and care we give to those in our lives.
Supernova is a film that pulls at your heart from the very start right on through to the very end. You feel every emotion with this one, and it’s hard not to well up at the sight of these two people having yo say goodbye to one another. It’s an utterly beautiful piece of cinema and one the audience should hold onto for it takes us to the very centre of what it means to love.
Image: MadMen Films