Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth shine brightly in understated love story 'Supernova'

  • Tusker (Stanley Tucci), left, and Sam (Colin Firth) take a road trip as Tusker copes with the onset of dementia in "Supernova."

    Tusker (Stanley Tucci), left, and Sam (Colin Firth) take a road trip as Tusker copes with the onset of dementia in "Supernova." Courtesy of Bleecker Street

  • Sam (Colin Firth), left, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) look back on their relationship and ahead to a bleak future in "Supernova."

    Sam (Colin Firth), left, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) look back on their relationship and ahead to a bleak future in "Supernova." Courtesy of Bleecker Street

  • Sam (Colin Firth), left, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) look back on their relationship and ahead to a frightening future in "Supernova."

    Sam (Colin Firth), left, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) look back on their relationship and ahead to a frightening future in "Supernova." Courtesy of Bleecker Street

 
 
Posted1/28/2021 6:00 AM

"Supernova" - ★ ★★

In Harry Macqueen's restrained and elegantly subtle love story "Supernova," both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci turn in incandescent performances every bit as luminous as the metaphorical dying star alluded to in the title.

 

Firth and Tucci play Sam and Tusker, a couple of middle-aged men in an RV camper rambling down the narrow roads of rural England, all the while bickering like an old married couple.

"You hear that noise?" Tusker says.

"What?" Sam replies.

"The sound of me ignoring you."

Longtime romantic partners Sam, a famous musician, and Tusker, a noted novelist, have opted to take the long and leisurely way to get to a recital. But Tusker has his own darker journey to travel, revealed when the men stop at a roadside store, and Tusker disappears with their pet dog.

A panicked Sam quickly tracks down Tusker a short distance away. He appears disoriented, lost.

Our suspicions are soon confirmed. Tusker suffers from dementia, and he knows what the bleak future will bring.

"This is taking me to someplace I don't want to go," he says.

Sam and Tusker's road trip takes them to the home of Sam's sister Lilly (Pippa Haywood) where Tusker has arranged a surprise birthday party for Sam.

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The rest of "Supernova" consists of these two men remembering the past and discussing their shortened future. We see a lot of hand-holding, tenderness and nonverbal reassurances as Tusker continually snaps his partner out of his seeming denial.

Tusker admits that he's not the man he used to be. "I just look like him."

"Supernova" does not capitalize on the inherent histrionics and weepy sentiment offered by most movies dealing with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

It barely possesses a plot, and eschews the conventions that would normally be included to provide the movie with comforting commercial cushions.

What "Supernova" does give us is far more rewarding for discriminating audiences, for it resonates with authenticity that anyone who's witnessed the deterioration of a loved one can relate to.

Whether playing a crusading lawyer in "Spotlight" or a fawning TV talk show host in "The Hunger Games," Tucci remains an American icon of actors, one of the few who always elevates whatever projects he undertakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He and Firth, an equally talented Brit, operate at the zenith of their thespian powers in this thoughtful and daringly understated romance that can't help but break your heart.

On a less emotional note, the production design of "Supernova" (supplied by Sarah Finlay) overdoses on the color turquoise to an almost distracting extent.

For several years now, turquoise has been a dominant, preferred color for movies and upscale TV series, and "Supernova" apparently wants to out-turquoise them all.

It not only gives us turquoise couches, sweaters, bedspreads, shirts, chairs and clouds, but even turquoise roads winding through the English countryside.

The color shouts in a drama that whispers.

• • •

Starring: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood

Directed by: Harry Macqueen

Other: A Bleecker Street release. In theaters; on demand Feb. 16. Rated R for sexual situations, language. 93 minutes

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