Put a pair of talented actors in what’s largely a two-hander and watch the sparks fly. Supernova is the latest evidence of this, as our two leading men are able to just go to town. Even when the film around them goes off in a cliched direction or tries to undercut their characters, the skillful acting on display makes sure that’s only a momentary distraction. The movie mostly puts its success or failure into the hands of our protagonists. Without question, that’s a recipe for success here. Malcolm & Marie, this is not, but we still have a quality flick on our hands.
Supernova lives and dies on the work from Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Without them, these characters, and the film itself, would have fallen flat. These two talented actors, both together and separately, imbue the picture with its heart and soul. Replace them and it likely would not be the same. They’re very much the special sauce that provides the pleasures of Supernova.
Longtime couple Sam (Firth) and Tusker (Tucci) have been partners for two decades. They have an old married couple way about them, but you can still see the deep love they share. Traveling across England in their rickety RV on an important trip we learn that they’re visiting not just a whole bunch of places from their past, but friends and family as well. Soon, we understand that Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia a few years prior, and that has made their time together quite precious. The trip could even potentially be the last truly good time they get to have with each other.
As they head towards the party with their family and friends, we see how they’ve also been recording interviews, allowing Sam and Tusker to chronicle the illness. However, Tusker also is against taking his medicine, holding on to who he used to be. In fact, he has no plans to deteriorate any further, which puts him in conflict with Sam, who plans to take care of him for the rest of their lives. What follows is a depiction of love that showcases two men who care incredibly deeply for each other, as well as what they have together.
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are at their best here. The chemistry shared between the two men is always in evidence, and there isn’t a single bit of artifice here. Firth has a bit more traditional of a role, but he adds layers that not every other actor would find, and the script likely did not contain. As for Tucci, he’s rightfully getting some Oscar buzz for this heartbreaking turn. He provides a movingly real depiction of someone desperate not to slip away, while never forgetting to make this character as entertaining as he’s written to be. It’s incredibly touching. Together, they form something really memorable.
Writer/director Henry Macqueen made one indisputably good choice, and that was casting Firth and Tucci. His direction is acceptable yet forgettable, helped by Dick Pope‘s cinematography, while his screenplay mixes profound moments with cliches. Luckily, Macqueen has his cast to elevate the material.
Supernova is a showcase for Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Tucci in particular takes the ball and runs with it. They allow you to overlook the flaws here and focus on the positives. It’s not an overly enthusiastic recommendation here, but Firth and Tucci make the movie more than worthwhile. Especially if you’re a fan of one of them, give this flick a shot.