Directed by Harry Macqueen
Starring Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, James Dreyfus
A love story situated right in our universe, Supernova is a touching film about a relationship where one of the lovers is coming to a slow demise. Although this sounds heavy (and it certainly is at times), the film portrays this in a realistic manner that seems most respectful to this relationship.
Bunkered together in a campervan, Tusker (Stanley Tucci) and Sam (Colin Firth) are headed for a holiday through England’s Lake District, which may be the last vacation for Tusker who is suffering from dementia.
His illness causes conflict between the two, but the film never feels it has to heap on the drama and turmoil just to keep itself going. You can feel like they’ve been in a long-term relationship, helped by the minutiae in their performances and their dialogue, as if they have in-jokes or reoccurring little conversations and arguments.
Opening up with an astonishing shot, the film already displays how good of an eye and ear it has for its visuals and sound. So much of Dick Pope’s cinematography has an earthy twilight-blue look to it, which is complemented by the strong sounds of piano and strings that put the film in an even further melancholic mood. The outer-space element to this love story makes it feel so much more profound, and it would hit even higher heights if it managed to convincingly relate these two disparate elements together in a more emotional way.
The film is a restrained emotional journey, though it doesn’t quite keep up its greatness up to its conclusion. We’ve already seen the couple together, and then we see them with their family and friends, but seeing the couple together again seems reiterative of these points. A ghastly revelation is what keeps the drama going, but once that’s passed, the film loses a few moments as it plays it very safe with how to bring it to an end (though it somewhat makes up for it with a powerful coda).
Supernova may be contrasted with an earlier PIAF film, The Father, which looked at Alzheimer’s. Whereas that film put you right in the perspective of someone with such a horrifying illness, Supernova’s approach is more restrained, looking at it from the outside, showing how this affects both the sufferer and their lover.
Supernova plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 25 to Sunday, January 31. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au.