Six years after Harry Macqueen‘s debut feature, ‘Hinterland‘, he delivers another road trip love story with his sophomore film, ‘Supernova‘. Visibly grown ever since his last effort, the direction and writing has his signature look and feel to it, but definitely elevated into something much bigger.
Sam (Colin Firth – ‘1917‘) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci – ‘The Witches‘) are traveling across England in their camper van, to visit friends and family. Two years ago Tusker got diagnosed with dementia, and this is slowly but surely taking its toll on them as fear, doubt and miscommunication start seeping into their long-lasting loving relationship.
Macqueen’s love story is infused with compassion, one that comes with a serious moral dilemma when a secret comes to light that would devastate any of us. The slow deterioration of Tusker’s health and sanity doesn’t go as far or hit as hard as let’s say for example Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour‘, but the heartfelt performances of Tucci and especially Firth, who carries this film with career-best work, help us connecting with the couple’s struggles.
The scenes between these two established actors in their camper van are definitely the most sincere and natural of the film, and this could’ve easily revolved around just the two of them. When other players get involved in this rather slow story, the magic between the two suddenly fades. Another thing that felt off for me, was the romantic chemistry between Tucci and Firth. The latter seems to go for it, but I could sense a cautious way of handling Firth’s romantic acts from Tucci, which could easily be part of the character he’s playing, but came across quite unnatural.
Supernova gets approached like a character study, in which Sam is the shyer half of the couple, whereas Tusker pushes his buttons and is more playful, especially now that he has nothing to lose in the condition he’s in. The story does play it a bit safe, even when a twist that will change the outcome of their relationship seems a harsh one, yet still doesn’t make as much of an impact as it could have. Most scenes in which there’s barely any dialogue are the most intimate and make Supernova the tearjerker it so desperately wants to be.
Macqueen’s sentimental approach works most of the time, but can’t avoid some clinical distance, while still delivering a beautifully crafted and touching product.
Bleecker Street will release SUPERNOVA in theaters January 29th, 2021
On Digital February 16th, 2021
Review – ‘Supernova’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Bleecker Street), January 27, 2021. Rating: M. Running time: 93 min.
PRODUCTION: A Bleecker Street Media release of a BBC Films, British Film Institute (BFI), Quiddity Films, The Bureau production. Producers: Tristan Goligher, Emily Morgan. Executive producers: Mary Burke, Vincent Gadelle, Eva Yates.
CREW: Director/screenplay: Harry Macqueen. Editing: Chris Wyatt. Cinematography: Dick Pope. Score: Keaton Henson.
CAST: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Nina Marlin, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward, James Dreyfus.