Films like this are always a soft spot for me because they show the power of a human connection. It’s not necessarily the conflict that is the driving force but how it’s dealt with by those around them. What makes “Supernova” so incredibly compelling is the story anchored by two great performances. A couple, Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) travel across the English countryside, to visit friends, family and the places of their youth after Tusker is diagnosed with dementia. The film follows a melancholic journey of this deeply in love couple facing one of life’s hardest tragedies.
There’s no denying that in stories like this one we could fall into serious melodrama. The script and direction by Harry Mcqueen emphasize a large amount of subtlety in the story. Instead of sweep scores and emotional outbursts, there’s a focus on the quiet tension of what this couple is feeling. It’s very relatable because you can easily see yourself acting similar if you were in the shoes of Firth’s character. There’s a hesitation and fear of the unknown that translates into beautiful moments of these actors talking. Discussing themes of life, love and accepting the future with two more than capable actors at the helm.
Stanley Tucci playing someone on the brink of losing himself doesn’t play it in the way you’d expect. Instead of being a meek man who’s slowly deteriorating, he keeps the same intellectual exterior layer that’s quite compelling. You sympathize with him and yearn for the character in the way those around him do. The subtle nuances of someone with this disease such as forgetting how to put on a shirt is both heartbreaking and emotionally involving. It’s the sort of role that could’ve easily been overplayed, but Tucci plays it in a very humane way. This subtlety matches quite well against Firth delivering a different sort of the same thing.
Colin Firth is someone who has more or less played the same role in a lot of his films. Here, he gets to act on how he’s feeling over what he’s saying which makes him incredibly sympathetic. The ability to try to maintain a positive exterior for his partner while feeling anxious, truly makes your heartbreak. There’s a particular moment late in the film, which took my breath away from how he plays it. Both him and Tucci are great, but I sincerely hope Firth is not forgotten about when this awards season comes full swing. No spoilers, but there’s a certain look he delivers signifying a newfound peace that just made my heart happy.
What holds “Supernova” back from being one of the years best films, is just how subtle it is. This sort of drama normally hits very specific story beats that are meant to elicit an emotional response. We don’t get that here which forces the emotion to come from subtle looks and moments of love between these characters. It’s the sort of thing that makes this film seem quite slow, which could be a turn-off for some. Clocking in at 93 minutes, I could personally forgive the melancholic pace. If you’re willing to go to that level, then there are definitely rich rewards to behold as an audience.
If you want something to curl up on the couch too, you really can’t do better. The phrase “cozy” is one that I’ve found to really enjoy in describing films. Something like “Supernova” emphasizes that cozy sensation by letting us really get to know these characters. There’s a warmth on display that’s so appealing, you can be forgiving of the relaxed pacing. When it comes to streaming, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a film with a heavy conflict but steeply emotional care that I found to be so appealing.