Supernova 2020

Review: Supernova

Year: 2020

Runtime: 93 minutes

Director: Harry Macqueen

Writer: Harry Macqueen

Actors: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter Macqueen, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward, James Dreyfus

by Alexandra Petrache

“Supernova” is a tale. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending and a plot twist. It has villains and heroes, except the villains do not have a shape and the heroes are being asked to let go. It explores family and friendship in the face of adversity, free will and the bond between partners, all set between the backdrop of English roads and scenery.

Tusker (Stanley Tucci) is a novelist and astronomy aficionado. He could talk about stars at length, spends his time spotting them in the sky and writing his book. The drama, written and directed by Harry Macqueen, shows Tusker and Sam (Colin Firth), his long-term partner, on a trip across England to meet with family and friends. It also shows Sam caring for his partner, who has been diagnosed with dementia. Together, they take a road trip, have arguments, good times, but more importantly, share moments of deep affection. They have taken a hiatus in both of their careers to take this holiday in a camper van, perhaps their last holiday together while they are both well.

It explores family and friendship in the face of adversity, free will and the bond between partners, all set between the backdrop of English roads and scenery.

The film is heart-breaking at times, but also soothing. Although it raises questions that stem from having to live with such a terrible disease with no cure, it also portrays moments of a life that is worth living and cherishing. It shows how care and love can enrich moments that may have been otherwise been spent alone with the disease. It shows that the diagnostic may make patients feel like burdens to their loved ones, but that that is not the case, and how care and music can help patients still live and make memories. A lesson on stars and galaxies turns into a reminder that a patient is still part of the family and society. Colin Firth’s own piano performance in the film is perfectly bittersweet and caps off wonderful performances from both actors.

Credit: BBC Films and British Film Institute

The analogy between a dying star and Tusker’s moments living with dementia deepens throughout the film, as there are more and more snippets of him looking at the night sky or talking about the stars. At some point, Sam has a look at the sky by himself, perhaps quizzing it and looking for answers in its depth. A notable aspect of the film is that it doesn’t feel forceful. The main actors have chemistry, the relationship they portray and the issues they face are, with the exception of a few scenes, shown in a gentle manner. In doing so, it manages to allude to tragedy without explicitly showing it, as the film slowly unrolls its tapestry of scenes and feelings.

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