⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
Stars: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Nina Marlin
Writer/Director: Harry Macqueen
In Theaters; Available on Streaming Platforms mid-February
Is it possible the Alzheimer’s Road Movie is on the verge of becoming an actual film genre? Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland took a ride down a lane of fading memories in The Leisure Seeker…Nick Nolte, as a fading grandfather, headed off on one last trip to Venice in A Head Full of Honey…and real-life Alzheimer’s patient Glen Campbell flourished through one final concert tour in the documentary I’ll Be Me.
Now here comes Supernova, driven (literally) by the big-star status of Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, tracing the progress of a long-committed gay couple embarking on a grand finale voyage across the English countryside, visiting old friends and re-visiting treasured memories while those memories remain.
Firth is Sam, an accomplished concert pianist who has clearly given up his career in order to care for Tucci’s bespectacled, soft-spoken Tusker — a gentle, thoughtful writer (is there any other kind, this writer asks) who is in the mid stages of an extended battle with memory loss. Devoted and determined, Sam has long since adapted to the rhythms of his mate’s advancing condition, finishing his sentences and filling in his blanks when necessary.
Tusker is less patient. He senses every lost word, every momentary lapse into confusion. Sam sees this cross-country drive as a much-needed jaunt; Tusker considers it a farewell engagement.
While Supernova does offer a vaguely defined story and some rather intense conflict, writer/director Harry Macqueen, a British actor helming just his second film, is less concerned with what is happening than to whom it is happening. Under Macqueen’s direction, two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dick Pope (Mr. Turner, The Illusionist) lingers on these two for almost indecent periods, soaking in the silences of their shared devotion. The actors are up to the scrutiny; Firth brings his trademark aura of stiff-upper-lip decency, Tucci embodies a man whose creative sensitivity makes him all too aware of the pages falling from the book of his life.
Aside from a warmly envisioned family gathering populated by a homey group of British actors, Supernova is what they call a “two-hander” — focusing almost exclusively on the pair at its center. The universe of Tucci’s character does get to expand, quite literally, during a stargazing session with a niece sweetly played by Nina Marlin. Looking skyward on chairs out back while the family bustles around indoors, the two share perspectives on the canopy of stars above: She seeing creation expand before her; he sensing it crashing in on him.
Supernova is lush with such evocative, ultimately sad moments. We don’t wish the finale on any of these characters, but we’re thankful to share it with them.
Featured image: Scene from Supernova (Photo Credit: Bleecker Street)
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