Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), partners of 20 years, are traveling across England in their old RV visiting friends, family, and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have. As the trip progresses, however, their ideas for the future clash, secrets come out, and their love for each other is tested as never before. They must confront the question of what it means to love one another in the face of Tusker’s illness.
Slow, nuanced “road” movie that explores friendship, love, commitment, death and dying, and what living means in the face of a serious illness that devastates one’s identity — dementia. Firth and Tucci are both excellent, but Firth is the standout for me with a powerfully subtle performance. It’s amazing to watch these two men, who are good friends in real life, act their intimate roles. While the pace is slow, what is happening is never boring. This is an emotional journey that is reflective and meditative, giving us time to think as we travel with these two men as they finally spend time with family and friends who all deal with the reality of Sam’s illness in diverse ways. But it is really Sam and Tusker’s management of their relationship and emotions that is most significant and most powerful.
It’s interesting to reflect on the difference between THE FATHER, which is more dramatic and surprising than SUPERNOVA. But both provide important insights about dementia and its effect on people and those whom they love and care about.
The pace of SUPERNOVA also allows for good character development despite the fact of the story assuming a long-term relationship with little detailed backstory. There is some humour but that never really dilutes the darkness facing this couple. Definitely worth seeing this intimate heart wrenching story.
(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)