Movie review / ‘Supernova’ (M)

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Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) in “Supernova”.

“Supernova” (M) ****

A SUPERNOVA occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star and the connection between this outer-space phenomenon and the title for writer/director Harry Macqueen’s film is perhaps remote and special. 

Understanding it is certainly not essential for the filmgoer to be blown away by what reflects from the screen. 

The theme is love, of the kind exemplified in the Greek historic writings illustrating the Pythagorean ideal of friendship by Damon through his trust in and love for Pythias. 

The relationship between Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) has endured for several decades. Now it is time for them to take to the road in their campervan to visit old friends and remembered places before early-onset dementia claims Tusker (whether that is a life-threatening condition I am not qualified to say, but it’s a useful dramatic hook from which to hang the story).

The two actors deliver their characters with stunning virtuosity, investing the film with emotional power that creeps stealthily into our awareness and ends up squeezing it harder than we expect. 

Sexuality may underlie the relationship but it’s not the dominating factor. For much of the film’s 94 minutes, the story examines Sam’s conflict based on the certain knowledge that he must expect to live his declining years without the emotional comfort that has become so familiar. He doesn’t bleat about the tough deal with which life is about to confront him. However, the subtlety of the writing of the dialogue and Firth’s delivery of it is masterly. Tucci’s representation of facing the inevitable is no less skilful but in a different way.

Staying with old friends leavens the story’s sombre power. Cumbria’s Lake District effectively provides welcome intervals in that power.

Playing Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour” just before the closing credits, Firth makes a poignant statement and reveals a hitherto unknown talent.

At Dendy, Palace Electric and Hoyts Woden

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"Supernova" (M) ****
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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