Review: Supernova

Written and directed by Harry Macqueen, Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are traveling across England in their old RV to visit friends, family and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have. Also starring: Pippa Haywood, James Dreyfus and Peter MacQueen.

For most people you can say the words ‘Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play a gay couple’ and they’re hooked, they’re two incredibly likable actors that both have a naturally charming air to them, so unsurprisingly they make a brilliant couple. When you add the fact that they have an adorable puppy then forget it, no-one can resist that combination. They instantly creating that classic old bickering couple atmosphere as soon as the cameras start rolling but when they subtly start to introduce the dementia through small gestures and looks, every one of them draws you in further. The entire handling of this story continues in much the same way, it’s gentle, thoughtful and loving.

You can’t deny that these two performances are awards bait of the highest level but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Firth and Tucci both bring characters to life that are sincere, generous, caring and simply wonderful. The way that Tucci portrays Tusker’s struggle with dementia is incredibly layered and has a great degree of detail in his expressions, body language and cadence. Firth’s balance of caution, worry and unabashed love as Sam is restrained, again there’s a lot that’s brought through by the way they carry themselves rather than outwardly emotional. That’s not to say that these two don’t get into overtly passionate and confrontational exchanges, and when they do it strikes right at your heart because they make it so easy to love these characters, so much so that’s watching these moments is genuinely difficult. The chemistry between the two of them is effortless, they pair so unbelievably well that even when you knew it was going to work, you’ll still be more impressed than expected.

Macqueen’s writing makes the story not only tug on your heartstrings but plays a romantic melody with them, it’s immediately captivating but only strengthens as time goes on. The story progression is masterfully done, there are only a handful of events taking place but even taking their dog for a walk is an impactful scene. It slowly but surely builds its emotion and tension until it reaches an utterly heart-breaking peak, that’s both a satisfying resolution to the story and shattering. The direction so wonderfully captures those emotions and Macqueen frames his shots so well to reflect the intimacy of the story. The cinematography is absolutely superb, it doesn’t miss a chance to make the most of the natural beauty on offer and it adds a great deal to the wider meaning of the story and its pondering of mortality, loneliness and loss. It’s topped with a perfectly toned score that artfully winds through the story, pushing its emotion further and creating an even stronger connection with its audience.

Supernova is heart-breaking, touching, gentle and lovingly made, the way that it handles dementia is respectful and profound. Firth and Tucci both give incredible performances and the two of them make a charming, adorable, sweet and beautifully committed couple. The writing, direction, score and cinematography all work together to give an intimate depth and sincerity to the story which is absorbing to the utmost degree and will effortlessly charm you off your feet.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½

Selected as part of London Film Festival’s ‘Love’ strand & set for release in UK cinemas on 9th July 2021

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