Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have been partners for twenty years. But they are about to face the greatest challenge of their relationship ever as Tusker has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. The couple travel across England to the Lake District to spend what could be their final holiday together.
Throughout ‘Supernova’, there’s a sense of intimacy to Tusker and Sam’s relationship that is beautifully portrayed. This is coupled with an authenticity to the relationship that’s truly remarkable. Friends in real life, the chemistry between Firth and Tucci is wonderful. As they bicker about the driving and the packing, there’s a humour to their relationship, which every couple will recognise.
Firth is as exquisite as ever and Tucci here gives what could be the best performance of his career. The illness and fragility of Tusker is communicated through subtle gestures. His embarrassment is palpable, and his efforts to hide what he’s going through don’t go unnoticed. He makes jokes, and is quietly nervous, Sam’s fears also coming to the fore in minute facial expressions. The couple records these tapes where they talk about Tusker’s dementia. It’s a really touching and creative means that allows them to open up and be honest with one another.
The backdrops of the Lake District are absolutely stunning, and really add to the simple story. There’s nothing of a grand scale that happens. Moreover, you’ve a good idea of where it’s all going. But so stunning is its emotionality, and high quality of the performances, that this 90 minute feature goes far beyond its humble ambitions.
The little details of long-term relationships never feel hammy. ‘Supernova’ shows the work and effort and affection needed to keep a couple going. Exchanges with the wider family later in the film are bittersweet, and there’s an audio revelation that’s truly frightening. The film contemplates how far partners are willing to go for one another, and doesn’t offer an easy resolution.
Its affection is unrelenting, as it offers a privileged insight into this couple’s life together. Ultimately, ‘Supernova’ is the best love story brought to the screen in years, and if that’s not deserving of a 5-star review, this reviewer doesn’t know what is.