Typically, I would preface the names of Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci with “award-winning actors,” but for this particular film, the more appropriate description would be “longtime friends.” These two have more chemistry with each other within the first five minutes than most other acting duos have in their entire runtimes.
Supernova is a remarkable little film. With a runtime of just 93 minutes, it achieves exactly what I believe writer/director Harry Macqueen was looking for, to make time feel fleeting, and as a result, all the more precious.
Restrained and Honest Direction
With such an intimate and voyeuristic look at the two men, who have been partners for over 20 years, the film instantly begins with an unsurpassable amount of respect and restraint. Storytelling and narrative are somewhat secondary, with little to no drawback, in favor of giving the audience the privilege to just spend time with Sam (Firth) and Tusker (Tucci).
We start the film with them on the road. Where they are going, we don’t know yet. But clues are revealed here and there through their dialogue. We learn that Sam is a musician with an incoming piano recital and that Tusker is a novelist with a passion for astronomy. But all of that has been affected. We sense a rift tearing their love and affection for each other.
Soon enough, the truth is clear: Tusker has early-onset dementia. But this premise goes in an unbelievably restrained and honest direction. We rarely see Tusker’s symptoms because Macqueen is not interested in that. Instead, we dive head-on into what living is like with that knowledge looming over someone. We feel what it’s like to slowly fade, what it’s like to mourn someone who’s still alive.
Three Beautiful, Remarkable Stars
It may come as no surprise to some, but Firth and Tucci are staggering. I went into this film knowing that I would be watching two of the greatest actors working today, yet they still surprised me and came out with career-best performances.
The moments where they lovingly bicker at one another ooze with limitless charm. They come from a place of honesty, endearment, and most of all, history. The humor spreads to everyone involved, but the camera also lingers. We’re right there next to Sam and Tusker when the jokes and laughs end and the thoughts and fears return.
This is a film that dwells in scene beats. It’s written and directed with so much trust in the audience to find the devastation through the glances and the quiet moments of words unsaid. Just like a moment in the film where Tusker mentions a “triangle of stars,” Supernova needs Firth and Tucci’s sensibilities working in unison with Macqueen’s restraint and attentiveness in order to shine. And boy does it burn brightly.
Supernova: A Remarkable Amount of Trust and Love
At an early point in the film, Sam is asked what he would wish for, to which he answers that he wishes their holiday would never end. Supernova feels like a loved one holding us – a soft heartbreaking embrace – and we wish we won’t ever break out of it, but time forces us to.
There is a remarkable amount of trust and love shown on-screen amongst Macqueen, Firth, and Tucci. Even with the second act introducing multiple members of Sam’s family, with an equally heartfelt performance by Pippa Haywood as Sam’s sister, the story is all about Sam and Tusker and their respective heartaches. Aside from a couple interactions that felt a bit too scripted or staged, there isn’t a moment in this film that feels false.
The filmmakers here have put together a small but impactful piece of work, whose loving affection for the here and now will remain. It’s a film that cherishes fleeting moments of warmth and coziness at a time when the world is growing colder. It will break your heart but hold your hand in opening it back up.
Did you see Supernova? What did you think of the film? Share below!
Bleecker Street will release SUPERNOVA in theaters on January 29th, 2021, and on Digital on February 16th, 2021.
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