Supernova Review – BFI London Film Festival 2020
Director: Harry Macqueen
Starring: Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth
Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are stargazing and sat nav-ing in new road trip drama Supernova, written and directed by Harry Macqueen.
The film sees Tucci and Firth play a couple, Tusker and Sam who are road tripping across England visiting family and friends.
Tusker is a writer and Sam a musician, and the film focuses on the couple’s battle against Tusker’s deteriorating health due to dementia.
Stars and Stillness
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It’s rare to see an older gay couple be the protagonists of any particular story so before the film even gets into gear it feels refreshing.
Furthermore, steering clear from the widely used HIV/AIDS narrative associated with gay films is another positive decision in expanding the variety of stories being told about gay men.
The story being told here is done so in a gentle and tender manner, making it effortless for audiences to join this couple on their physical and emotional journey.
Cinematographer Dick Pope captures the stillness and timelessness of nature in the scenic locations Tusker and Sam encounter on their trip, serving as a cruel contrast to the couple’s imminent countdown of remaining time together.
The way in which the narrative pauses to capture these moments allows for the emotions of the audience to brood, and as a result Supernova delivers as much feeling as there are stars in the sky.
Tusker and Sam
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Both Tucci and Firth are on fine form here, each of them facing a different challenge with their respective performances.
Tucci’s performance demands him to portray a man coming to terms with the loss of himself whilst Firth’s requires him to evoke the heartache of losing the man he’s loved for twenty years.
At first the couple’s chemistry isn’t completely convincing and some more moments of happiness and joy between them would have gone a long way in remedying this initial problem.
Although the longer that we spend with Tusker and Sam the more evident their love for one another becomes, with audiences sure to come to love them too.
The portrayal of dementia is an accurate yet restrained one; Tucci expertly showcases the way in which this illness can affect the mind and body, often with heartbreaking results.
The film depicts the illness in its earlier stages, with hints and more isolated moments demonstrating the damage it can cause.
Tucci does excellently to convey these new challenges for Tusker, showing that accepting their presence is maybe even harder than overcoming their demands.
As Tucci’s on-screen partner, Firth’s portrayal of Sam is incredibly touching and demonstrates the impact that a dementia diagnosis can have on loved ones as well as those directly affected by it.
We watch as he navigates the difficult conversations and plans that he has to take charge of as Tusker’s health deteriorates.
Conversations and plans that no-one should ever even have to consider, let alone actually have.
Not only his partner, but now also his primary caregiver, Sam consistently has to put Tusker’s needs before his own, and Firth confidently and consistently showcases the selflessness of his character.
You Have Arrived at Your Destination
With all of the strongest elements of the film colliding together to create the most poignant of finales, Supernova is set to become a queer classic.
Giving screen time to an often underrepresented group of society Tucci and Firth’s heartfelt performances as Tusker and Sam will pull on the heartstrings of all types of audiences, truly demonstrating the universal language of love.
It brings with it a lasting power that will linger with viewers long after the credits roll and as Sam wishes that his holiday with Tusker will never end so will audiences long to extend their time with this beautiful couple.
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