[Screen It]


(2020) (Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci) (R)

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Drama: Two men find their longstanding romantic relationship tested by one's progressively worsening dementia and his desire to live and die on his own terms.

British pianist Sam (COLIN FIRTH) and American author Tusker (STANLEY TUCCI) have been a couple for years, enjoying both success and a solid relationship while living in England. They've recently set out on a road trip in an RV to see their old haunts from long ago as well as visit family and friends. They're doing so mostly because Tusker is going through the early stages of dementia and he wants to see those places and people while he still recognizes what and who they are.

That condition isn't sitting well with Sam whose world is rocked even more when he learns of Tusker's covert plan that he was going to enact during their trip. With both contending with the disease, they try to come to an agreement about how best to proceed, knowing full well that any choice isn't going to be easy.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10

A common scientific misconception among laypersons regarding space is that most of the stars we see at night with the naked eye are already dead. I can understand the "logic" behind such a belief. After all, light travels at 186,000 miles per second (or 5,869,593,072,000 miles per year) and we know that most stars are hundreds and sometimes thousands of light-years away from Earth.

So, without realizing the age of many of those celestial bodies, most people just do split-second math in their head, apply the Star Wars "long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" tagline, and make the official call that what you're seeing in the sky is from the past and no longer exists.

I have a feeling that filmmaker Harry Macqueen wanted to use that as a titular and thematic metaphor in his well-made and moving drama "Supernova." While the title might make one believe they're about to watch some sort of sci-fi or disaster film (such as the 2000 offering of the same name), instead it's an all-too-timely road trip drama about a star of a different kind, albeit one also on the way out.

In it, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play Sam and Tusker, a long-standing couple who've set out on a British road trip to revisit their past and visit family and friends before the latter's early-onset dementia worsens.

Tusker's still functional, but things are getting harder for him and he doesn't want to be remembered as a victim of this insidious disease. Instead, he wants Sam and everyone else to remember him the way he was, a star of the printed page who's now going supernova before fading into oblivion.

To him, he thinks that his partner is viewing someone who's still visible but really is already dead, at least regarding who he once was. And thus, he has a plan for that, a revelation that -- like every other aspect of the illness -- doesn't sit well with Sam who's afraid of losing -- in more ways than one -- the great love of his life.

And that's about it for plot in Macqueen's decidedly character-driven offering that touches on a disease that's increasingly no stranger to movies of recent (including, but not limited to 2020's "The Father" as well as "Still Alice," "Away From Her" and "The Savages" from years past). Thankfully, and as was the case with those predecessors, the proceedings never dip into maudlin territory or operate in any sort of Nicholas Sparks fashion.

The situation and characters come off as authentic and you end up fully engaged in the men and their plight thanks to two terrific lead performances, a great screenplay, and direction -- accompanied by sublime visuals shot by cinematographer Dick Pope -- that manages to remain interesting despite the fairly simple story.

While obviously not a feel-good offering and certainly not one for all audiences (especially those who are going through or have been in similar circumstances), "Supernova" is a solid offering about appreciating who you have in your life before they're no longer shining as brightly as before or not at all. It rates as a 7 out of 10.

Reviewed January 25, 2021 / Posted January 29, 2021

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