Review: Supernova

STUDIO: Bleecker Street | DIRECTOR: Harry Macqueen | CAST: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, James Dreyfus, Pippa Haywood, Sarah Woodward
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 29, 2021
SPECS: R | 93 min. | Drama romance

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

A solemn and beautifully realized look at friendship and love on the road and in the face of tragic circumstances, Supernova showcases two impressive lead performances from long-time friends Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, with subtle yet powerful directing and writing efforts by filmmaker Harry Macqueen in his sophomore effort following 2014’s well-received Hinterland.

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in Supernova

Focusing on the two lead performers and presented almost like a play, Supernova tells of lovers Sam (Firth, Genius), a noted pianist, and Tusker (Tucci, A Private War), a novelist, who both have to deal with the fact that Tusker is experiencing symptoms of early onset dementia. The two have been a couple for a long time, but Tusker’s deteriorating condition and memory lapses have begun to surface, causing friction between the pair as they set off on a road trip though Northern England in their camper.

Macqueen keeps things relatively low-key throughout, honing in on the conversations between the loving couple which reflect the anguish they are experiencing. At the same time, the ideas of maintaining dignity and the give-and-take of their union become themes in the conversations the men have and the way they act toward one another. Underlining these situations is Macqueen’s decision to shoot much of the film in close-ups, whether it be in the camper as they take in the glorious countryside (captured by Mike Leigh’s regular cinematographer Dick Pope) or at a party at the home of Sam’s sister (Pippa Haywood, Netflix’s Bridgerton).

The subject of dementia has been the subject of such fine movies as Away from Her with Julie Christie, Still Alice with an Oscar-winning Julianne Moore, The Savages starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney and, most recently, The Father spotlighting Anthony Hopkins in the lead. Although the subject may be familiar to movie fans, thanks to first-rate work from everyone involved, Supernova delivers a mournful but memorable look at the disease, the issues and the humanity of people who are quietly suffering.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.