Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review: "Supernova"


Simple and sweet as can be, "Supernova" is a heartfelt love story that will make you ache with sorrow and empathy.

Is this movie a bit of a cliche? It is. Two lovers, one of whom is dying, dance around each other in a sort of long goodbye. The one that's going has to convince the other to let them go, and the one staying clings stubbornly to what they had.

The only difference from gosh knows how many other iterations we've had of this tale -- "Love Story," "Me Without You," "Our Friend" -- is that in this case the couple is older, probably in their early 60s, and both are men. They decide to go on a road trip together... their last.

I think about a time, not so terribly long ago, when a story like this would seem bold or challenging. Now this romantic drama starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci is utterly conventional. I mean that as a compliment.

Having two gifted actors tackling this material is a gift. I loved the fact that they don't go for big showy moments, but give us the tender in-between stuff where the real meat of the relationship lives.

This movie is pensive, sad, and not a little whimsical. Sam (Firth) and Tusker (Tucci) share plenty of tender moments, motoring around the Lake District in northwest England in their aged little RV. There is much mirth and teasing. They don't seem to have much of a destination, other than a couple of stop-ins to stay with Sam's sister (Pippa Haywood) and a concert performance by Sam, a pianist and composer.

They just have their dog -- fairly new to the family, and we guess an intended replacement for Tusker -- a few odds and ends, and lots of memories. They putter around the countryside, which gives cinematographer Dick Pope ample opportunity to photograph the gorgeous countryside of hills and lakes. 

Tusker is a novelist with mid-stage dementia. He's at the point where he seems fully functional, but he tends to wander off and forget where he is, misplace simple words like "triangle," and -- worst of all -- struggles to put any words on paper. At a dinner gathering he wants to read a letter but finds he can't, so Sam reads it for him. We can sense how much effort and love went into this bit of prose.

There really isn't any more to the movie than that. Just one development, which I'll not divulge. Though this is a movie less about "what happens" than the moments and moods these two characters share together. They seem as real to us as our neighbors or friends. Thanks to writer/director Harry Macqueen for introducing us.

It's often been said that love is not something that just appears and disappears, but a living that is born, grows, sometimes decays, and eventually ceases to live. But, like the people who are connected through it, even the memory of it has a power over us that lingers. 

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