LFF 2020: Supernova – Review

Release Date – 25th June 2021, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 33 minutes, Director – Harry Macqueen

Musician Sam (Colin Firth) and writer Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are travelling across England by motorhome to revisit old friends, family and treasured places as Tusker’s dementia worsens.

It’s almost impossible to believe that Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci were initially meant to play the opposite roles in Harry Macqueen’s Supernova. The pair seem so perfectly cast, and clearly understand their characters well, that the fact they swapped roles at any point is hard to think of. Perhaps their 20 year friendship has something to do with this, after all their chemistry as a couple, of around the same timespan, makes for an authentic, and indeed heart-breaking, relationship. They play Sam (Firth) and Tusker (Tucci), a musician and writer travelling across England by motorhome as Tusker’s dementia appears to be getting worse. For both of them this could be a final goodbye to friends, family, key locations of their relationship and so much more.

Throughout the two central performances match the subtlety of the screenplay. Sudden emotion is ramped up as Tusker’s dementia shows through, Sam’s panic and worry as it does clearly showing despite him trying to hold it back. Yet, while the film has such emotional beats it’s authenticity comes through its heart and humour. The pair bicker and argue about small things, often in a joking way – Tucci asks Firth while travelling along a scenic hillside road “how about exploring the outer regions of fifth gear?” Such moments of light, naturalistic humour don’t just raise a mild chuckle at times they’re laugh out loud funny. Joys are looked at through clear, bright images of serene and peaceful landscapes and environments. These should be places of calm and warmth for them both, and while they are to some degree – the cinematography truly capturing all of this, and the often stunning scenery – there’s also a lot of stress and upset poured in to bring everything back to the main point with sensitivity and ease.

Everything in the film seems to be taken one moment at a time, allowing for things to feel even more natural as you’re guided through the story one thing at a time. It makes each instance and scenario feel more real and, if the term can be used in relation to a film such as this, unpredictable – something which provides hope for the future of the couple. Throughout they worry about each other, worry through care and yet neither wants to properly show that in the hope that this prevents the other from worrying too. You feel their pain, not through force but through a genuine connection. Helped by the fact that you’re simply shown the events of the film and allowed to gently drink them all in.

By the end, through heart-warmth and heartbreak, you’re left with emotional chills of all kinds. You don’t just observe the struggles of the characters you experience them alongside them, thrown into everything with an ease of understanding from the very start. Both pains are felt, both hearts and humours too. This is an honest film that has all the more impact because of this fact, allowing you to get caught up in the conversations, thoughts and feelings of two authentic characters who deeply love and care for each other. Brought to life by two brilliant performances with an immense chemistry, Supernova is nothing short of a sparkling delight of all kinds of heart.

Firth and Tucci are stunning in the lead roles in this sensitively subtle dementia drama. Bringing to life a brilliant screenplay to form a gentle drink of humour and emotion.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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